Keeping Peace in the Camp During COVID 19

In the midst of stay-at-home orders throughout our county there is a growing concern regarding how COVID 19 will affect us spiritually, physically, and psychologically.

Spiritually, we have had to find new ways to practice our faith. The discipline of corporate celebration and worship has been limited greatly. One of the things I miss most about not gathering as a local church is altar time. I love when people come together at the altar seeking a closer walk with the Lord. It is refreshing to me as I have learned to cast my cares upon the Lord at the altar each week, seek forgiveness, and become filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is a tangible place for repentance, refueling, refreshing, and renewal. Today, my altar time and corporate worship have been replaced with the disciplines of personal Bible study, meditation, and reflection. One thing we do know is that God is sovereign and He will be with us as we navigate the days ahead.

Physically, people are postponing their routine physical exams and their scheduled medical appointments including surgeries. I was scheduled for a sleep study and knee surgery and both have been postponed with no firm date set. There are far more serious conditions that will not get the attention needed as people are fearful that something worse might happen should they seek medical assistance. People are not able to go to health clubs, swimming pools, and other places they would normally frequent for exercise and to stay physically fit.

Psychologically, everyone has had to adjust almost every facet of their lives which can affect one’s mental health. Many have lost their jobs while others are working from home. Most colleges have transitioned to offering only online courses. Public and private schools have closed for the remainder of the school year. Working parents are challenged without childcare availability. Many children are going without meals that were provided during school hours. Homeschooling has become a priority in order to keep children from falling behind. The probability for stress, tension, and anger within the home is high. Discouragement and depression can bring about other major health concerns.

It is understandable that during this season of forced change and uncertainty people are more susceptible to anger. It is what one does when he or she is angry that determines its psychological effect. Anger that is not dealt with in a healthy manner can result in significant and long-term problems.

The Bible offers us help in dealing with anger. The following is an often quoted verse:  “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26). It is not a sin to become angry but it can quickly lead to sin if not handled according to the Bible. The subject of anger is all too familiar for most of us.  We see anger in our businesses, schools, political parties, civic organizations, social media, and in our homes. It appears that people do not even try to restrain their anger anymore. According to Webster’s dictionary anger is, “That feeling of displeasure and hostility resulting from injury, mistreatment, or opposition.”  This is a problem that we all deal with from the cradle to the grave. God intended that we learn to overcome anger as we grow older, and not become hostile when injured, mistreated, or opposed.

One of the hardest lessons is to not speak when angry. James wrote the following: “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20 NKJV). It is good to hold one’s tongue until wisdom surfaces. Maybe announce that you need to take a walk alone or go to another room. It is amazing what just a few minutes can do for one’s perspective. Often I realize that the problem of my anger is not someone else but me. Also, that time alone can reveal what triggered our anger. Sometimes I find myself guilty of not speaking and sometimes I get called out on it. I can report progress as one who would rather be guilty of not speaking rather than one who says the wrong thing, especially if it is out of anger. 

It is worth noting that anger did not make Paul’s list when he shared: “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV). He went further and taught that we should get rid of our anger. Paul wrote: Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32 (NKJV). 

How do we do this? Well, I think we need to first ask “what do people do with their anger?” I have observed that people generally deal with anger in at least the four following ways (These are not exclusive, meaning there are other ways not mentioned and not all of these are healthy.):

First, suppressing anger. Some people try to keep anger bottled up inside until they reach a point when they can’t take it anymore and then they explode. Have you ever noticed the pressure relief valve on a water heater tank? If the water becomes too hot the pressure builds on the inside of the tank. If there were no pressure relief valve the tank would explode. If we do not release our anger it can build up and the result can be harmful to others and to us. Sadly, when this happens many people seem to get hurt by harsh words and actions that do not adequately reflect the angry person’s true feelings. The healthy way is to find a path in order to release anger before resentments take root. It could be going for a prayer walk alone, hitting a golf ball, casting a fishing rod, or some other outdoor activity. It could be talking with a pastor, counselor, mentor, or trusted friend who can keep what is share in confidence. The main thing is to not suppress anger because it will only get worse with time and can leave one bitter.

Second, verbally expressing anger without consideration of how it might hurt others. I am amazed at how some people express their anger by speaking harshly to the ones closest to them. I think some people even take pride in their ability to verbally release their anger. Have you ever heard the saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt?” That is untrue. Words do hurt and cannot be taken back. My dad used to say: “You can’t un-ring the bell.” Some may get angry at school, work, or some other place and suppress it until they get home just to let their anger out on their spouse or children. When this happens it is really damaging to the family unit.

Third, expressing anger through physical abuse. This is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. If you are a in a relationship and this is happening please get away from the one hurting you. Unless, the one who is hurting you gets professional help this will most likely not get better. Many times after one has expressed his or her anger by hurting someone else he or she feels a great sense of remorse. Unfortunately, remorse alone is not a cure for this behavior. Remorse is often followed by empty promises that lead to repeated physical abuse. There must be the recognition of the problem, repentance with a clear mental and spiritual path for the abusive person to follow. If you are one that gets angry and physically abuses others please seek out a professional Christian counselor and get help.

Fourth, confess anger to the Lord and to those who might be affected. I believe this is ideal and most beneficial. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).  I don’t know about you but whenever I discover that I am angry, most times I have simultaneously discovered that sin has crept in. Whereas people and situations can lead us to anger it is our choice how we respond. I have found that confession is a good way to say good night to the Lord. It also might help us live longer and happier lives!

Instead of letting anger control us we can control it by recognizing our anger and what triggers it, talking with someone about how to manage our anger, confessing and releasing our anger in healthy ways. Let’s strive to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in our lives by prayer, Bible study, and practicing love. Yes, love is a verb and it is a decision of the will. When we make the choice to love even those that trigger our anger we become more like Jesus. That is exactly what He does. He loves us unconditionally! I have found that my acceptance level of other’s behavior is contingent on my love for them. When we love others especially those closest to us we can release them to be who God created them to be.  We can celebrate our uniqueness and yes, even our quirks.

May the Holy Spirit continually bless you and your family by providing peace in your camp during COVID 19!



Aslan is on the Move

Aslan 1

My family and I love spring and summer more than any other time of the year. We are outdoor people! For me, it is the time of year when nature speaks of new life. The flowers are blooming and the trees are producing new leaves. The warm air really makes me feel refreshed and alive. With spring the long, long winter has ended and now warmer days are in sight.

In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, we are told about Narnia being a place where it is “always winter but never Christmas.” Narnia was under a curse and the white witch which metaphorically represented Satan had dominion. That is until Aslan arrived in Narnia! If you remember, Edmund, Peter, Susan, and Lucy discovered Narnia by stepping through the professor’s wardrobe. They encountered a world full of surprises. While trying to find Mr. Tumnus, Lucy’s new friend (a faun), they found hospitality at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. It was there that Mr. Beaver told them about Aslan.

Lucy inquired, “Isn’t He safe?” Mr. Beaver replied, “Of course He isn’t safe but He is good.” We know in Lewis’s Narnia Aslan represents Jesus. Aslan is the King of the wood and came to fulfill prophecy. Jesus is King of Kings and He came to fulfill Biblical prophecy. Mr. Beaver stated, “Aslan is on the move!” Likewise, I sense the roar of a dangerous Lion who is on the move!

Where did we get the idea that living as a Christian would be safe? On the contrary we are told that we would face trouble. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV).

The local church has always prayed for safety but those prayers for safety mainly focused on those traveling or for those in harm’s way (i.e., missionaries, military, travelers, first responders, and those playing contact sports). Times have changed and it seems now we are living in a time of even greater uncertainty. For the last few years we have witnessed the necessity for local churches to have safety policies and procedures. It has been proven that having trained safety (security) teams in place saves lives. Now, with the coronavirus quickly spreading throughout the world we see that safety measures are no longer a choice but a governmental mandate.

With an invisible enemy like the coronavirus safety teams are ineffective. Safety has become a priority to our society and among the local church. This is not a bad thing. We should do all that we can to remain safe and to protect others. However, as Christians let us not forget that we have an enemy that desires to destroy us. Living the Christian life is not always safe but it is good. The enemy might come as a betrayer, a terrorist, or an illness. The world is not a safe place. It never has been. It is the age old battle between good and evil.

Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19 NKJV). If we are living for Jesus we can expect the world to hate us. We should pray to the Lord for safety but more than praying for safety we should pray for courage. As we walk “in His steps” we will find ourselves in dangerous territory.

Yes, Aslan is on the move and the world will fight against Him. The world will fight against us because we belong to Jesus. I am not advocating fear but reminding us that we follow a Lion that is “not safe but He is good.” He is not safe in that as we follow Him we will face danger. We will be hated by those that hate the Lion. We must not fret though because our Lion is Jesus, our true Shepherd and He looks after us, His sheep!

First, He looks after us in His Person. We have a place of refuge in God. He promised never to leave us nor forsake us (Joshua 1:9, Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). He is our Emmanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23). We can find a shelter and safety under His wings (Psalm 91).

Second, He looks after us in His Provision. The Apostle Paul teaches us to “Put on the Whole Armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11-18). When we pray we access a spiritual armament that no evil can penetrate. Each piece of the armor is vital and is activated as we live, move, and have our being in Christ (Acts 17:28).

Third, He looks after us in His Power. It is not in our might that we overcome but by His Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). He has equipped us with the Holy Spirit so that we can witness for Christ (Acts 1:8). 2 Timothy 1:7 reads, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Fourth, He looks after us in His Purpose. Nothing shall happen to us unless God allows it to happen. He is in control. Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible! “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Perhaps, you are thinking, “Well this guy is just sermonizing and making light of the problem our world has encountered with the coronavirus.” On the contrary my heart is very burdened as a pastor that is ministering by internet and telephone instead of in person. Furthermore, as a husband and father my priority is the safety of my family. We are practicing social distancing, wearing protective mask when in crowds, and abiding with the stay-at-home order. We must use common sense and use the means available to us so we can remain healthy. My point is simple. Be ready. At any moment things could shift in any direction and we must be “strong and very courageous!” Why? Because Aslan is on the move!

Practicing Our Faith Without Buildings

Faith Without Buildings 2

A few days ago I noticed a photo of a church marquee sign on Facebook that really caught my attention. It was meant as a joke but the longer I pondered the words my heart became burdened. The sign read, “Prophecy Class Cancelled Due to Unforeseen Circumstances.” We cannot afford to cancel the teaching of Biblical Prophecy under any circumstance! We must continue letting the world know that Jesus is coming!

During the last several weeks I have been teaching on the Book of Revelation. The tri-fold genre of the Book of Revelation is: a letter, prophecy, and Jewish apocalyptic literature. Chapters 6 through 19 outline a series of judgments during a future time described as the Tribulation Period. Many evangelical scholars ascribe to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory. Personally, I hold to this theory and believe that the Church will be caught up in the air to meet Jesus prior to the Tribulation Period.

With all that is happening in the world today it should open our eyes to Biblical prophesies concerning the Rapture, Tribulation Period, and the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! If there ever was a time for the local church to share the Good News it is NOW! There is no time for spiritual complacency or slumber. We must wake up and make sure our lamps are filled with oil because our Bridegroom could come at any moment (Matthew 25:1-10). That means we must continue practicing our faith without buildings.

The local church today does not look like it did just a month ago. Yesterday (March 30, 2020), the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, followed other governors in issuing a “stay-at-home” order. That means our local church will not gather as usual for our Palm Sunday Worship Service, Holy Week activities, or our Easter Sunday Worship Service. Even the churches that were meeting in parking lots are now told that is prohibited. The local church will not gather as usual. However, we shall gather in spirit, through social media, telephone, and any other means we can. Why? Because the local church is determined to move forward and overcome any obstacle.

Is there any hope for the local church in her public gatherings? Absolutely! Remember, during Israel’s history they were held captive in Babylon but they returned to their homeland. The Temple was rebuilt, worship was restored, and the LORD received the glory!

I believe the coronavirus is a terrible global enemy that has destroyed life and continues to bring heartache to the families it attacks. I don’t believe it is something God has sent as judgment. However, I do believe He is using this as a means to deploy the local church and to turn her mission focus outward. We must reach the lost and we must encourage one another during this time in ways other than seeing each other at a worship gathering. We must be proactive and utilize this time as the local church’s greatest opportunity.

In John 2:1-10 we read about the first public miracle of Jesus. He turned water into wine at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It was a potential embarrassing moment as the wine was running out during the wedding feast. Jesus’ mother, Mary, told Him that the wine had ran out and He told her that it was not His time. Perhaps, this was not the time that He wanted to begin His public ministry but the circumstance and need was present. Mary told the servants to do whatever Jesus said to do. He instructed them to fill the water pots with water and then pour some out and take it to the master of the feast. When the master of the feast tasted the water that was turned into wine he was shocked. Normally, the best wine is served first and after everyone is full and don’t care, the less expensive wine brands are brought out. The master of the feast stated, “You have kept the best for the last!” God seems to do this often… saving the best for last. I believe we are on the brink of a tremendous revival that will far exceed anything we have ever experienced.

Where will this revival take place? I am not sure but it would not surprise me if we are being setup by the Holy Spirit to experience a revival in our homes! Haggai 2:9 says, “The glory of this latter temple shall be greater that the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts.” Glory! There will be greater demonstrations of the goodness of God as people receive from Him. Throughout this world the Good News is reaching homes through social media and other platforms of ministry. It is no longer (at least for this season) just the church building where God is ministering. As ministry goes forward there will be more love expressed, peace embraced, hearts encountered, and redemption experienced.

In closing, the local church is not about buildings although we have many and they are costly. We have debt because of these buildings. I am not saying that we shouldn’t have buildings. What I am saying is the true Church is not nor has it ever been defined by buildings. The true Church is about relationships. The foundation is our saving relationship with Jesus Christ and through Him we have relationships with one another. We are the Body of Christ! We are His dwelling place! Therefore, we do not cancel the local church. On the contrary, we REACH FORWARD TOGETHER!


Laity on Lockdown

Laity on Lockdown 1

With many areas of our lives placed on pause it may seem like things will fall apart because we cannot “do” all the things we are accustomed. I would like to remind you that God still has the whole world in His hands. For many people, their days usually begin with a list of things “to do” and perhaps a time of prayer, “Lord, what would you like for me ‘to do’ for You today?” With the coronavirus “to do” lists have been reduced significantly for many churchgoers. Social distancing now has a new meaning and “stay-at-home” has affected schools, businesses, hospitals, nursing homes, health clubs, and local churches. It is as if the laity of the local church have been placed in “lockdown” or at least been “paused” in so many areas of service (Sunday School teachers, greeters, ushers, hospitality teams, nursery workers, choirs, praise teams/bands, musicians, audio/visual technicians, children’s church workers, youth leaders, and the list goes on and on!). We have been able “to do” so much in the local church because the lay people have such passion and love for serving! Now, the laity are having to stay home in order to abide with the regulations and requests of our governmental officials.

Today, I was on a conference call with some other pastors and it confirmed what I already was sensing in my spirit. All of the pastors on the conference call are “doing” Livestream services and some are “doing” parking lot church. What was confirmed is that nobody on the conference call has any idea about tomorrow. As the sun comes up tomorrow things could be better or worse for the local church. The Church could experience the Rapture or it may continue “doing” ministry in new ways. However, God knows and He will continue “doing” something that He has been “doing” since Jesus was walking the earth with His disciples. Jesus will build His Church “and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” nor will the coronavirus! (Matthew 16:18)

We live in a performance measured society. If we perform well then we are rewarded. Performance is something we “do.” With all the chaos, confusion, anxiety, and depression let’s not forget that God is more concerned about us “being” than “doing!” You might ask, “What about our works?” Yes, we are supposed to work for the Lord. We are His servants and servants “do” for their Master. However, our “doing” must be in Him or it will be of no avail. Jesus said to remain in Him and that apart from Him we can “do” nothing (John 15:5).

Okay, you are probably noticing at this point our dilemma. If we “do” ministry and He is not included then we are really just wasting precious time. We have a solution to our dilemma and it is found throughout Scripture as it relates to our intimate relationship with Jesus. Instead of running around trying to fix things we can embrace the time of “pause” that has been given us and “be still and know that He is God” (Psalm 46:10). If we do this we can discover “being” or “resting” in Him is not time wasted but time well spent! It is actually a vital key to victorious Christian living.

Since we are in “lockdown” and not able to gather together and serve together why don’t we make the best use of our time? We can accept that we have been placed on pause or “lockdown” and seek a more intimate relationship with Jesus. Reading the Scripture a little more, praying a little more, and just enjoying “being” in God’s presence. It could be that the Lord wants us to REST in Him that He can prepare us for a tremendous revival! Whenever we do come back together as local churches all over this world wouldn’t it be amazing that we are ready! You might be asking, “Ready for what?” Ready to serve with a fresh anointing! Ready to serve with a new appreciation for corporate worship! Ready to serve in excellence! Ready to serve even the least of these! Laity in “lockdown” could very well be a time that God has set aside for His Church to become empowered by the Holy Spirit “to do” greater works!


The Gospel & Facebook Live!


Eleven O’clock AM on March 22, 2020 may go down in history as one of the greatest hours of the 21st Century Church! Many pastors like myself were most likely taken by surprise by the sudden shift in ministry from a traditional setting to a Livestream, Facebook, and/or Instagram setting. The ability to reach far beyond a Sunday morning worship attendance was evident as the views on our church’s Facebook Live broadcast. It was amazing to see that our little online Facebook Live broadcast reached over 800 people! Our online giving has increased and people are sharing post from various other churches and ministries. The bottom line is the Gospel is being proclaimed!

Time will tell regarding the fruitfulness of this new method of ministry.  Which really is not new at all! The difference between this Sunday and previous ones is this Sunday the world was held captive for the most part by the Coronavirus (Covid 19). Gatherings have been limited to 10 or less.

Earlier in the week I noticed a post that someone had placed on their Facebook feed. It was a picture of Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump. The caption was so eyeopening! “And just like that every pastor became a televangelist!” Certainly, that is not my desire. My goal is to serve the Lord Jesus faithfully as a pastor-teacher. The thought of preaching before a camera has no appeal for me. I have been in pastoral ministry over 20 years and for 5 to 6 years I have ministered in worship services that have been Livestreamed. This day was different as the focus and expectation of most church members was that every local church would either Livestream or hold parking lot church services.


I was so blessed to have two members of our pastoral staff ministering with me. Pastor Tyler Osborne and Pastor Kayla Osborne serve as our worship leaders and youth pastors. Just before going live on Facebook we prayed together and I sensed the Lord manifesting in our vacant Freedom Worship Center. The Holy Spirit was present just as if the building was filled to seating capacity. One of my former mentors who has now passed heavenward would often say that the anointing makes all the difference. Whether the service be in a building or only Live Stream my prayer is that we continue ministering with the anointing.


It was very edifying to see just how many of my pastor friends took to Facebook live this day! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this day of ministry sparked a global revival and evangelistic thrust with many accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? My wife, Teresa had much to say to me about this and sparked my mind to pondering just how much this could be a game changer for the church! Her excitement is so encouraging and this is the mentality that we should exhibit. Let’s not be down but let’s rise up for the challenge!

Two cautionary statements I would like to offer in closing my remarks. First, let’s not forget that many have not made the leap to the internet and do not know about Livestream, Facebook, or Instagram. Some state that Facebook is of the devil and that there is no good that can come from it. We must love all people and respect their beliefs. We should accept that this new method is not for everyone and seek ways to continue ministering to everyone we can. Second, many of our local churches rely upon tithes and offerings. Whereas the numbers on our Facebook post may be impressive they do not pay the bills. We must provide ways for people to worship the Lord in their giving. Our church has online giving available that is safe and secure. Again, not everyone will use this means of giving as it is dependent upon internet use. Delivering CDs of the worship service with tithing envelopes is one of the ways we are trying to assist our shut-in members during this time. We are also sharing our postal mail address with our members so they can mail in their gifts. Furthermore, we are utilizing email, postal mail, and our “One Call” phone tree to communicate to our members.

Please remember that our methods may change but our message remains the same. Jesus Christ died for sinners and all who call upon the Lord shall be saved!  Let’s continue spreading the Good News! Reach out to a shut-in today and let them know that they are loved and appreciated!  Let’s “BE” the church!




Coronavirus and the Local Church

Coronavirus 1While Scripture alone must be our sole source of faith and practice, it appears that we are in the midst of a pandemic identified as coronavirus (COVID-19) and it is affecting our places of worship. Many denominational leaders, pastors, and lay leaders are currently making statements and this is good. The local church should not remain silent. It is a time of concern but it should not be a time of fear. The Bible teaches that we should not fear but be strong and courageous during such times (Joshua 1:9).

In my opinion, we are witnessing a frenzy fueled by the media and political hype that if left unchecked will lead many into a “doomsday” mentality. Is the pandemic real? Absolutely. Should we be concerned? Absolutely. However, concern should not equate being anxious or living in fear (Philippians 4:6-7 and 2 Timothy 1:7).

Most every pastor is rethinking how to hold worship services, ministries, and fellowship gatherings. Many churches are known for their friendliness and loving congregations. To many the thought of no more “passing of the peace” or “meet and greet” is very alarming. What about Holy Communion? Do we refrain from certain practices that we rely upon as “means of grace” that are so essential to our faith? These are real struggles and there are no easy answers. However, we can enter the dialog, take proactive steps to protect our congregations, and at the same time continue engaging our communities with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Below are some steps our local church and Christian daycare are taking at this stage of the US outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19):

  1. We are trusting God as the sovereign Creator, Redeemer, and Healer of human life;
  2. We are praying for those affected to be healed, wisdom for our President, Coronavirus Task Force, CDC officials, doctors, medical staff, and researchers;
  3. We are staying informed though our denominational leadership and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website;
  4. We are informing our congregation of the steps being taken during this season;
  5. We are making use of social media for shut-ins and those unable to attend worship services during this time including online giving tutorials;
  6. We are sanitizing our facilities including all surfaces and making alcohol based hand sanitizer more readily available;
  7. We are not (at this time) forsaking the assembling of ourselves. We are continuing our times of ministry, worship, and daycare hours of operation;
  8. We are moving toward friendly waves instead of hugs, handshakes, and fist bumps;
  9. We are offering the following practical suggestions to help stop the spread of germs:
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Limit contact with others if you are sick.
  • Cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Use a tissue or napkin, if possible, and throw it away. Help prevent the spread of germs by avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.

Instead of staying home we are encouraging everyone to “lean in” toward the fellowship of believers and continue our corporate worship of Jesus!

Our Sunday School classes are continuing to meet at 10 AM, our main celebration/worship service is meeting Sundays at 11 AM in the Freedom Worship Center, on Sunday evenings at 6 PM in the old sanctuary we are studying the Book of Daniel, and on Wednesdays at 7 PM we are studying the Book of Revelation in the fellowship hall. During this season we are seeking what the Bible has to say about the “End Times” and applying God’s Word to daily living.

Our youth ministries, outreach ministries, men’s fellowship, and Christian daycare are all following their normal schedule at this time and we are encouraging staying healthy and active in the local church!

In addition, we are seeking ways to minister to our community with an intentional outward focus to share the love of Jesus Christ. This is an opportunity for us to rise up as the Body of Christ and show the world that we care.  May the Lord bless you and keep you healthy!

The Gospel of John – Part Eight “Seventh Sign” Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45)

INTRODUCTION: This seventh sign/miracle shows the fulfillment of our Lord’s promise to all who believe in His name, as He called Lazarus out of the grave and restored him from death to life. This passage shows that even though Jesus knew Lazarus was sick He actually waited until Lazarus was dead and buried before He responded to his sisters’ request for help. He did this so He could bring Lazarus back to life. It is an unmistakable model of the resurrection power of God!

I. The Request (11:3). Mary and Martha were the sisters of Lazarus. They sent word to Jesus that his friend was sick. It is interesting that included in the request and recorded in John’s Gospel is the phrase “he whom You love is sick.” John refers to Himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. It is almost as if John notices the importance of the friendship and doesn’t omit this detail.

II. The Reluctance (11:6). I would think that hearing the news that Lazarus whom was one that Jesus loved was sick that Jesus would sprint to the place where he lay. Not so. Jesus tarried and didn’t depart for two days. We know that the Holy Spirit was guiding Jesus and that there was a divine reason for the delay. It is true in our lives as well. Sometimes we get angry because of the delay but God is always on time! “He’s an on-time God… yes, He is!”

III. The Reassurance (11:40). By the time Jesus arrived Lazarus had been in dead four days. Mary and Martha had given up hope. Aaron Wilburn wrote the following: “Lord if you had been here You could have healed him; he’d still be alive. But You’re four days late and all hope is gone. Lord we don’t understand why You’ve waited so long. O, but His way is God’s way; not yours or mine. And isn’t it great that when He’s four days late He’s still on time.” The body of Lazarus was stinking and they had left him in the tomb. They had given up. All hope was gone as far as they were concerned. They did not realize that with Jesus hope is never gone! He wanted to know where the grave was. He wanted to know the place where they gave up? It is never a pretty. The Lord wants to know where we gave up. He wants us to show him where our efforts were not sufficient. He wants to see the place where our faith ran weak. In essence, He wants to know where the dead things in our lives have been placed (i.e. relationships, marriage, employment, education, family, etc.).

IV. The Resurrection (11:43-44). Mary and Martha believed in the resurrection and that their brother would be raised to life in the Last Day. What they failed to realize is that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life!” The answer to their problem was Jesus. He is the answer to every problem. They just needed help in redirecting their faith to the present. “Now, faith is the….” It is a NOW thing! Do you want to see life now?

V. The Release (11:44). I have heard many preachers comment that if Jesus had not called the name of Lazarus then every dead person would have come forth. When Lazarus came out of the tomb the grave clothes had him bound. When Jesus brings things back to life we can expect that some people will want to keep the grave cloths on. We have to be willing to release the things that Jesus has brought back from the dead. They now have life! “Live and Let Live.”

CONCLUSION: It is fitting for this sign/miracle to be last as it symbolizes Jesus being raised from the dead. In this miracle, Jesus shows Himself as the Resurrection and the Life, and shows His power over death even before His own resurrection. There are similarities in the two resurrections (i.e. tomb, stone rolled away). The same power that raised Lazarus and Jesus from the dead will also raise those who believe in Jesus.

The Gospel of John – Part Seven “Sixth Sign” Healing of a Man Born Blind (John 9:1-41

INTRODUCTION: This man had never seen a sunrise, sunset, a flower, or anything. He grew up in a world of darkness. This man’s blindness was not punishment for his sin or his parent’s sin. However, it is true that he would not be blind if it were not for the Fall of man and curse of sin. This man’s physical blindness was tragic but it was his spiritual blindness that was the issue. The Pharisees who could physically see were spiritually blind. This man’s blindness had a divine purpose which was only known to God. Through the touch of Jesus this man received his sight. After the touch, he could not only see physically but also spiritually! It was for the sake of God’s plan to bring this blind man to Christ and bring glory to God! Let us consider…
I. The Man (9:1-5).
Though the man was blind and could not see his way to Jesus it didn’t prevent Jesus coming to him. Jesus saw the man who had been born blind. It was assumed that either he or his parents sinned and his blindness was a result. This is not so. Tragedy happens to the just and the unjust.

II. The Mud (9:6).
We learned in the Prologue of John that Jesus is the Creator. Adam was created from the dust of the ground. We are made of clay. God is the Potter and we are the clay. Jesus took some mud… some clay and placed in on the man’s blinded eyes. What an amazing sign! God made the man and He remade the man!

III. The Miracle (9:7-9).
Jesus told the blind man to go wash in the pool of Siloam. The man received the Word! Go! Wash! Out of the man’s obedience and him responding to the Word in faith a miracle took place! The man could see! We are told that the ‘god of this age has blinded the eyes of the unbeliever” and we all are born blind spiritually. We need a miracle of rebirth. We must be born again!

IV. The Messiah (9:10-12).
When asked who it was that gave him sight the blind man said, “A Man called Jesus…” His name is the sweetest name I know! It is this Man that touched my life and gave me sight! “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me…. I once was lost but now I am found, was blind but now I see!” Say His name with me… Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!

V. The Message (9:25).
The Pharisees were furious and sought to destroy the ministry of Jesus. They were full of religion but they were spiritually blind. They kicked the healed blind man out. He was not welcome with them but He was welcome with Jesus. Through faith in Jesus we can see what really matters in life.

CONCLUSION: God reached down and took that which was considered evil (dirt); mixed it with human saliva; touched the blind man’s eyes; instructed the man to wash; and through the blind man’s faith, he received sight! God is not limited by the physical condition of a person. Jesus, God in the flesh, is able to cause the blind to see!

The Gospel of John – Part Six “Fifth Sign” Jesus Walking on the Water (John 6:15-21)

INTRODUCTION:  After feeding the 5,000 Jesus withdrew by Himself because He perceived the crowd would force Him to be king. He did not give any specific instructions to His disciples. However, they went to down to the sea and began a nighttime voyage across the sea to Capernaum. The disciples of Jesus had labored all night long to row only about half way across the Sea of Galilee (about 3 miles). In the midst of their navigational struggle Jesus passed by them … walking on the water! When they realized it was Jesus, they let Him into the boat and immediately reached their destination. Without Him they were struggling just to make a little headway, but with Him in their midst the struggle was over. When we have Jesus our journey is no longer a struggle but a joy!  Let us glean from this fifth sign…
1.  The Setting (15-18).
After an all-day speaking event and performing the miracle of feeding 5,000 men plus women and children with five barley loaves and two fish Jesus was probably tired. The disciples were probably tired too! They had been at the speaking engagement all-day and served that mega crowd. The crowd wanted to seize Jesus and make Him their king. He was and is King but not as they were looking. He removed Himself from the crowd. That was pretty amazing itself. He was able to take some time for solitude with the Father and rest. The disciples were instructed to go to the other side of the lake (Sea of Galilee). They were to go a distance of about five miles. They were all in one boat. It might have been the very boat that is on display in Israel today that is from the 1st century AD. About halfway across the lake a storm arose and it was dark. They were alone and afraid.
2.  The Savior (19-20).
Jesus does not want His followers to be alone, in the dark, or afraid. When we cannot go to Him, He will come to us. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. When we are in trouble He will walk on top of that which we are afraid. He is above all. He is our Savior and when we need Him we can count on Him. He came to the disciples walking on the water. They were afraid but when He spoke the fear had to go! “It is I, do not be afraid.” Their fears were gone and they received Him into the boat.
III.       The Security (21-21).
When we have Jesus on board there is nothing to fear. “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world!” Jesus was not limited by the gravitational pull, darkness, space, or time. Immediately they were at their destination. When we have Jesus in our vessel we can be assured that we will reach our destination.
CONCLUSION: The goal of the disciples was to reach their destination. They were primarily hindered by the storm which arose quickly. When they saw Jesus walking on the water coming near the boat they were afraid. It was when they received Jesus their fear was calmed and immediately they reached their goal. We do not have control over the wind. When we are in a storm and the wind is blowing there is One who we can call upon. He is limitless and all-powerful. He walks on the water and He draws near to those who will receive Him!

The Gospel of John – Part Five “Fourth Sign” Feeding the 5,000

INTRODUCTION:  This is the fourth sign pointing to the deity of Jesus. This miracle is included in all four Gospels (See Mt.14:13-21; Mk. 6:30-44; Lk. 9:10-17). It held strong appeal, especially for those who had learned of Israel’s experience in the wilderness when God “rained down manna upon them to eat, and gave them food from heaven” (Ps. 78:24). This sign shows Jesus as the Supplier of physical needs (1 Cor. 10:3-5). He is the Living Bread (v. 51); True Bread of God (v. 33); True Bread out of heaven (v. 32). He is the one who daily feeds the whole world by creating harvest fields from a few grains. Christ always provides. The question is will we trust Him to provide our needs. Jesus is the hope of the Second Exodus, which leads to freedom from the slavery to sin.

1.  The Place (1-3).

Jesus and His disciples were in the region of the Twelve which was along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The place offered a type of natural amphitheater. It was a beautiful place for Jesus to teach.

2.  The Passover (4).

This sign took place just before Passover. This gives us a good idea that Jesus was probably into His public ministry at least a year. With Passover edging closer the people may have been thinking about the great feast. Little did they know the Passover Lamb was in their midst!

3.  The People (5-6).

There were 5,000 men. Some commentators say that with the women and children it could easily have been 10K, 15K, or 20K people. They were following Jesus because of the signs (miracles).

4.  The Problem (7).
The multitude of people were listening to Jesus and the disciples observed that there was no food for them to eat. Getting late in the day they wanted to dismiss the crowd. The only food available was a bag lunch that a lad had brought. At least he thought about making preparations for the daily bread he would need. Can you imagine being the only one with food in the midst of 5,000 hungry men? I think I would hide my food. His food was confiscated – emanate domain of sorts.

5.  The Provision (8-13).

It may have been just a lad’s bag lunch but remember “little is much when God is in it.” Jesus took the five barley loaves and two small fish and blessed them. Five is the number of grace and two is the number of witness. Five and two make seven which is the perfect number or number of completion. However, Jesus was not adding but multiplying! The miracle of provision took place as the disciples were serving the multitude. There were twelve baskets full remaining. Jesus instructed the disciples to gather the remaining food. It was not a “doggy bag” for the disciples. These basket were most likely bushel baskets. It would be more than enough for the disciples. On a side note… where did the baskets come from? Perhaps, Jesus had a part in that as well…  could be one of the many unmentioned signs (20:30).

6.  The Prophet (14-15).

After the miracle took place the multitude wanted to seize Jesus and make Him their king. They desired an earthly king that could and would stop the Roman oppression. Jesus came as Prophet, Priest, and King. He withdrew because the purpose of His birth was not to save the Israelites from Rome but to save the world from sin. Moses spoke of another prophet coming after him and that they should listen to him. Jesus is the fulfillment of that prophecy.

CONCLUSION: The Lord loves to supply our needs! There are several things we can learn from this fourth sign. God tests our faith with challenges to do the impossible. According to Philip and the rest of the disciples feeding the multitude was impossible. God often ministers through weakness. He does not select strong people so that He can use their strengths. He does not select perfect people who always do things right in the eyes of men. He chooses weak and broken people so that He can demonstrate His power through their weakness. God is not limited by our experience or our resources.  The disciples thought there was nothing that could be done. We frequently limit ourselves in the church. We say: “We’ve never done it this way before.” But, God delights in doing the unexpected.

The Gospel of John – Part Four: “Third Sign” Healing at the Pool

INTRODUCTION:  This sign is different than the first two. The first sign which took place at a wedding Jesus was informed of the need by his mother. The second sign which was the healing of a dying boy Jesus was sought out by the boy’s father. This sign we see Jesus seeking a man who had been crippled for thirty-eight years. Jesus intentionally healed this man on the Sabbath day. This miracle was a challenge to traditional religion which was not effective. Jesus came as the divine light and life giver. The Pool of Bethseda has been referred to as the “house of mercy”, house of the portico”, “house of the olive”, and “house of the outpouring”. For this crippled man it had become a house of hopelessness. This is a clear indication of how empty the religious system in Jerusalem had become. When Jesus arrived, the pool containing five colonnades became the place of grace.
I.          The Pool (5:1-4).
The pool was by the sheep gate where there was much traffic. People would enter the sheep gate with the sacrifices and would go toward the Temple. The pool was a place of mercy as there was no other help available for the ones who were there except a miracle. When the angel would bless the waters the first one in would be healed.
II.         The Problem (5:5-7).
This man was not able to move on his own. He was dependent upon others. Years of watching others receive their healing had left the man hopeless. He had “no man” to help him into the water. The man had to let go of his old identity as a sick man. He had to be willing to be healed.
III.        The Power (5:8-9).
Jesus came to the man. We often hear people say the following: “When I came to the Lord…” Truth is we don’t come to the Lord but He comes to us. He cam to this man. The man heard the Word of Jesus and responded. The man got up carrying his mat and started walking. It was almost like a Forrest Gump moment… he was walking!  “I’m going for a walk now! Don’t bother me… I’m walking by faith!”
IV.        The Pharisees (5:10-13).
When the man was healed it was on the Sabbath and it was unlawful to carry anything or do any kind of labor. Jesus broke the law by healing the man on the Sabbath and the man broke the law by carrying his mat.
V.         The Praise (5:14-15).
The man picked up his mat and walked because Jesus told him to do so. It was a high form of praise as He did the very thing Jesus told Him to do.
VI.        The Persecution (5:16-18).
Instead of folks being excited for the man they criticized and persecuted him because he was breaking the law. Never mind the law the man had been healed by Jesus after being an invalid for thirty-eight years. Sometimes people will not be happy for you. You have to endure persecution because of Jesus. They hated him and they will hate us.
VII.       The Purpose (5:19-23).
The sign is to point to Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus is God in the flesh and he touches the ones who need Him. The man had no one to help him but Jesus in a friend of sinners and sufferers.
VIII.      The Promise (5:24-30).
Rise, take up your mat and walk. The man would never have to return to the pool as a sick man. He was healed and no longer had need of his place at the pool.
IX.        The Prophecy (5:31-47).
Jesus said that He has come in His Father’s name. He was sent by the Father and He is equated with the Father. This brought even more trouble as Jesus cites Moses speaking of Him.
CONCLUSION:  The religious Jews (Pharisees) were outraged when they saw this man carrying his mat. Their anger was further fueled when they learned Jesus was the one who healed the man. The healing occurred on the Sabbath day and Jesus equated himself with God and referred to Him as His Father (5:16-23). The Pharisees would not find satisfaction until the death of Jesus. Today, our satisfaction is because of the death of Jesus! He is the divine healer and he seeks to heal the sick.

The Gospel of John – Part Three: “Second Sign” Healing the Nobleman’s Son (4:46-54)

INTRODUCTION:  The book of John is structured topically. Chapters 1- 12 primarily focus on the “Seven Signs” and Chapters 13 – 20 focus on the glory of God. Interwoven is the gospel message. Jesus is God in the flesh and the hope for fallen humanity. This he declares through Seven “I AM” statements which we shall consider separately. This Second Sign confirms the healing power of God at work through Jesus. Jesus is met by a nobleman/royal official (most likely an officer under Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee) who pleads with Jesus to travel from Cana to Capernaum (about 22 miles) to heal his dying son. Let’s consider this sign and how it points to Jesus…
I.          The Places (4:43-46).
Jesus has just came through Samaria and met with the woman at the well. Many believed in Jesus because of the of the woman who testified. This shows the importance of our testimony. Jesus being a Jew broke tradition and cultural barriers by going through Samaria. in fact He stayed in Samaria two days and many others believed because He spoke His words. Jesus left Samaria after two days and went to Galilee. Galilee was where the common folks lived and worked. They were known as the “peoples of the land” and were not the elite. However, they had seen and heard of what Jesus had done while in Jerusalem. He was a rebel or revolutionary! He overturned the money changers tables at the Temple! Jesus was not pious or a religionist. He was welcomed in Galilee among the common folks.
II.         The Plea (4:47).
The nobleman most likely broke a barrier as well. He was probably an official under Herod. Because of his son being deathly sick this nobleman left his post and went to Jesus. When a parent’s child is sick there is no barrier strong enough to keep the parent from pleading for help. This man believed Jesus could heal he son.
III.        The Problem (4:48).
The man’s son was dying and there was no hope apart from Jesus. Jesus was not there so the man had to go to Him. When we have problems the place to go first is to the Lord.
IV.        The Persistence (4:49).
Nobody could keep this man away from Jesus. He was going to meet with Him and he would not be sent away. The man humbled himself most likely crying and begging.
V.          The Promise (4:50-54).
Jesus sent the man away and told him that his son lives! The man had enough faith to leave Jesus and go back to his son. Met along the journey (22 miles) by his servants was told his son was healed! He asked at what time? It was the same time that Jesus spoke to the man and told him that his son lives! Overjoyed he most likely ran the rest of the way to his son praising the Lord all the way. We need to be people who will run and shout praises for the Lord has done great things for us!
CONCLUSION:  Regardless of his royal position, this father was desperate for his son to be healed. When he heard about Jesus he responded by seeking a miracle. After Jesus heard the plea he responded by telling the need for the signs and wonders. Jesus told the man to go away that his son lives. What we are told in v. 50 is vital to the power of faith in the Word of Jesus. The man believed the Word and left. The joy of healing was experienced which must have strengthened the nobleman’s faith. And it can strengthen our faith.  Jesus is not limited by space. All we have to do is place our trust in His Word. Paul confirms, “For all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

The Gospel of John – Part Two: “First Sign” Changing Water into Wine (2:1-12)

INTRODUCTION:  The gospel of John is the gospel of belief. The purpose for this fourth gospel is expressly stated, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31). There are seven primary signs mentioned in John’s gospel and each one confirms the deity of Jesus (2:1-11, 4:46-51, 5:1-9, 6:1-14, 6:16-21, 9:1-7, and 11:1-44). John’s gospel follows a topical format not a chronological one. The seven signs (miracles) are further support by Jesus Himself with seven “I am” statements. These two themes are woven together by God’s plan of Salvation.  Let’s consider the first sign…
I.          The Occasion (2:1-2).
It was a wedding! A joyous occasion that turned into a social embarrassment as the wine ran out! The couple (probably teens) were in an awkward position as well as their families. The culture during that time was different than our present one. A Jewish wedding was a celebration for many and it could go on for days.
II.         The Observation (2:3).
Mary, the mother of Jesus brings the problem to the attention of Jesus. Now, it is imperative to think about how this wedding affected Jesus. He was a single man without a bride. His Bride is the Church. How many of us prior to getting married felt like the odd ones at weddings. Everyone is excited about the love of the bride and groom while we observe from the platform of being single. Not much fun for most single folks. Jesus has a Bride and He has a wedding day! In order for His wedding to take place He had to pay the penalty of the sins of His Bride. The death, burial, and resurrection would be necessary. Where is His joy? It was before Him on the other side of the cross. The wedding in Cana was the place Jesus chose for His inaugural miracle. He brought joy to the hearts of many by turning water into wine.
III.        The Obedience (2:7-8).
Jesus told His mother that it was not yet His time. What Jesus was referring to was the cross. The hour of suffering that was to come. He was not ready and He told His mother. Mary told the servants to do whatever Jesus said to do. That is still true today. If you are a servant of Jesus you must do whatever He says to do.
IV.        The Outcome (2:9-11).
The servants took some of the water to the master of the feast (i.e., MC – master of ceremony). When the master of the feast drank it he discovered it was not water but the finest wine he had ever tasted. So true! The wine is symbolic of the joy of the Lord and there is nothing greater. Jesus is the real Master of the feast and He brings joy to the wedding.

CONCLUSION:  It is interesting the first sign takes place at a wedding and the last sign takes place at a funeral. The changing of water into wine symbolizes the replacement of Judaism with the gospel. The containers were six water pots used for purification which was part of the law. The pots were filled to the brim and there were six (the number of man). Man can be filled with the law and still have no joy. Wine is symbolic of the joy found in the presence of God (Joy in the Holy Spirit). A wedding with no joy is tragic as is a life with no joy. This first sign points to Jesus being the one who is able to bring joy into the life of those who will be obedient to Him. Jesus keeps the festival going! 

The Gospel of John – Part One: Introducing Christ (1:1-51)

INTRODUCTION:  John’s gospel is different from the others.  There is no genealogy, no manger scene, no boyhood, no temptation, no Mount of transfiguration, and no Gethsemane.  There are only a few special miracles chosen by John as “signs.”  We have the famous “I AM” sayings of Jesus and many discourses found nowhere else.  There are no scribes, no lepers, no publicans, and no demoniacs.  There are no parables.  It would almost seem that John sits with a copy of Luke’s gospel open before him, deliberately leaving out things Luke puts in and putting things in that Luke leaves out.  Luke wrote to show Jesus is the Son of Man.  John wrote to show Jesus is the Son of God.  John was most likely around 80 plus years old when he wrote this book.  Keep in mind he wrote other books including I, II. III. John and the book of Revelation. John was a pastor and he was faced with the problem of false teachers.  Gnosticism was one of the main problems that John addresses.  He hit it head on by stating that Jesus is God and He became flesh and dwelt with us.  The gospel of John really has two main sections sandwiched between a Prologue and Epilogue. The first section deals with the signs (culminating in raising Lazarus from the dead) and the second section deals with the Passion narrative with Jesus teaching and praying for His disciples. Jesus was a Jew; John was a Jew; John’s audience was primarily Jews; therefore, there are many references to Jewish Feasts.

I.     Divine Life (1:1-5);
a. Jesus is eternally God;
b. Jesus is equally God;
c. Jesus is essentially God;

II.    Divine Light (1:6-13);
a. John the Baptist was a messenger (man sent from God);
b. John the Baptist had a motive (to be a witness);
c. John the Baptist had a method (bear witness to the true Light);

III.  Divine Love (1:14-18);
a. dwelt = tabernacled (reference OT Tabernacle);
b. glory, grace and truth;
c. born of God (v. 13);
i. not of natural birth;
ii. not of religion or law;
iii. not of man (works);

IV.  Divine Lamb (1:19-36);
a. Jews sent priest and Levites inquiring about John (v. 19);
b. John the Baptist states he is not the Christ (v. 21):
c. Jesus is Prophet, Priest, and King:
d. John identifies Jesus as the Lamb of God (v. 36);

V.  Divine Lordship (1:37-51);
a. first apostles called;
b. questions from Jesus;
i. Who do you seek?;
ii. Come and see;
iii.  Follow Me;
c.  angels ascending and descending upon Jesus.

CONCLUSION:  By the time John wrote his gospel there were many false teachers attempting to discredit the deity of Jesus.  Matthew wrote to the Jews, John Mark to the Romans, Luke to the Greeks but John wrote to the church.  John witnessed the life and ministry of Jesus.  What John tells about Jesus provides the church with information to combat heresies such as Gnosticism.  We learn from John’s gospel that Jesus is 100% God and 100% man (Hypostatic Union).  He is the infinite God-man.  The purpose of John’s gospel of Jesus is “…written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

Brief Description of Heresies:
Adoptionism – God granted Jesus powers then adopted him as a Son;
Albigenses – Reincarnation and two gods: one good and other evil;
Apollinarianism – Jesus’ divine will overshadowed and replaced the human;
Arianism – Jesus was a lesser, created being;
Docetism – Jesus was divine but only seemed to be human;
Donatism – Validity of sacraments depends on character of the minister;
Gnosticism – Dualism of good and bad and special knowledge for salvation;
Kenosis – Jesus gave up some divine attributes while on earth;
Marcionism – God of O.T. evil and God of N.T. good (11 Canonical books);
Modalism – God is one person in three modes;
Monarchianism – God is one person;
Monophysitism – Jesus had only one nature: divine;
Nestorianism – Jesus was two persons;
Patripassionism – The Father suffered on the cross;
Pelagianism – Man is unaffected by the fall and can keep all of God’s laws;
Semi-Pelagianism – Man and God cooperate to achieve man’s salvation;
Socinianism – Denial of the Trinity. Jesus is a deified man;
Subordinationism – The Son is lesser than the Father in essence/attributes;
Tritheism – The Trinity is really three separate gods.

The Gospel of John – Overview

Authorship:  Two Plausible Options – John, the apostle or Johaninne School. Author identifies himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved. Some say John the Elder or John the son of Zebedee.

Recipients:  Probably Christians living in Ephesus.  (More specifically, Jews who became Christians and pagans who became Christians).  This Gospel is a pastoral document that was written to help people in their situation.

Date:  Sometime between AD 90 – AD 100 and after the other Gospels had been written and were circulating.

Unique Features:

  1. Its simple and direct style. (Vocabulary is limited and simple.  Often beginner Greek students start translating in John.)
  1. Elevated view of Christ. Often described as the “Cosmic Christ.”  (Emphasis on Jesus’ divine nature.   Ex. “the Father and I are one.”)
  1. Its different from the Synoptics. Most of the earthy content mentioned in the other Gospels are not mentioned in John.  Ex. No parables in John.  Most of the stories in John are not mentioned in the other Gospels. Ex. Water into wine (3), Encounter with Nicodemus (3), Encounter with the Samaritan woman (4), Encounter with the woman taken in adultery (8), Resurrection of Lazarus (11).  So, the content is significantly different.  However, the Triumphal Entry is similar to the Synoptics.  Miracles are identified as “signs.”  John does not use the Greek word for miracle but uses the Greek word for sign.  So, the importance is not merely the miracle but what it signifies.
  1. Judaism, Hellenism and Gnosticism are addressed. Drenched in OT illusions.  Emphasis on Jews.  The story of Jesus is built around Jerusalem and the Feast Days.  Remember, the other Gospels focus on Galilee until the last week of Jesus’ life.  John’s Gospel is the most Jewish of all and the most Greek of the Gospels (Hellenistic).  Also, Gnosticism is combated.  John does this by talking about above and below, life and death, light and darkness.  Those categories come out of Gnosticism.  Remember that Gnosticism is characterized by dualism. Gnosticism embodied Platonic thought.  The language that Jesus uses in John’s Gospel is very Gnostic.  Therefore, John’s readers were probably Jews that believed in Jesus, COMPLETED Jews.  This is why John’s Gospel is so Jewish.  But why the dualism?  The eyes that they had as pagans were not checked at the door.  So, when they accepted Jesus that had to deal with how they would fit Jesus into their background (Jewish, Greek and Gnostic).

Remember that Gnostics had a problem with Jesus.  What problem did the Gnostics have with Jesus?  They couldn’t accept that he was both divine and human.  That Gnostic world-view is still present.  The problem was not confessing that Jesus was God but confessing that Jesus was God and man.  The Bible teaches that Adam was human before the fall.  Afterwards he was less human.  Jesus was fully human.

John 1:14 is as anti-Gnostic as it gets because flesh is evil according to the Gnostics and God became flesh in v. 14.  In the story of Lazarus, “Jesus wept.”  Human beings weep, ghost don’t.  So, with the divine power of calling forth a dead man, Jesus is seen weeping.

John 19 – The spear cast into Jesus’ side and out flows water and blood, humans bleed, ghost don’t.

John 20 – the first Sunday night service- Jesus comes through a locked door and Thomas touches him, only human beings have wounds, ghost  don’t.

Jesus is God in the flesh! Not a ghost as Gnostics would argue.

Content:  4 Parts

  1. Prologue (1:1-18) First part of the Prologue climaxes in v. 14.  Second part of the Prologue climaxes with the use of “grace and truth.”
  1. The Book of Signs (1:19-12:50) Why is it called this?  It is because it is built around 8 miracles that John identifies as “signs.”  Most would say that The Book of Signs is an exposition of 1:11.  Notice the culmination of the 8th sign in 1:53 He came unto his own and his own received him not.
  1. The Book of Passion (13-20) Most would say that this is an exposition of 1:12.  The biggest part is concerned with the disciples.  Chapters 13-17 center in the Upper Room.  14:16 promise of the Holy Spirit, PARAKLETE (One who stands by your side).  Jesus promises himself in the midst of their suffering.
  1. Epilogue (21) Restoration of Peter.  Prove you love me Peter.  If you love me feed my sheep and in Acts 3 he does.

Elwell, Walker A. and Robert W. Yarbrough.  Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1998).

Jensen, Irving L. Simply Understanding the Bible. (Minneapolis, MN: World Wide Publications, 1990).

How to Conduct an Intervention



Alcohol and drug abuse is a problem close to everyone. Chances are there is someone in your family or circle of close friends that is either and alcoholic or has a drug addiction. It is important to realize that drug abuse might include both illegal drugs and/or prescription drugs. It is estimated that one out of every ten persons who drink alcohol are or will become an alcoholic. Whereas this blog is not intended to explain the disease of alcoholism or drug addiction it is intended to be a help to those who are considering an intervention as a way to help a loved one. Help is available for the victim and his or her family.

Not every intervention is the same as we are dealing with a complex problem and it requires certain skills to discern which specific direction should be taken with an intervention. However, there are six basic steps to an intervention.

Six Basic Steps of an Intervention (The Johnson Model):

Step 1: Make a list of meaningful persons other than yourself who surround the chemically dependent person.

Step 2: Form the intervention team.

Step 3: Make written lists of specific incidents or conditions related to the victim’s drinking or drug use that legitimatize your concern.

Step 4: Find out about treatment options in your area and make arrangements.

Step 5: Rehearse the intervention.

a. Designate a chairperson.
b. Go over each item on the written list that team members have prepared.
c. Determine the order in which team members will read their lists during the intervention.
d. Choose someone to play the role of the chemically dependent person during the rehearsals.
e. Determine the responses that team members will make to the chemically dependent person.
f. Conduct the rehearsals (two or more if needed.

Step 6: Conduct the intervention.
Remember that the goal of any intervention should be to obtain a commitment from the victim to receive the help the intervention team has arranged.

Principles of Intervention:
1. Meaningful persons in the life of the chemically dependent person are involved.
2. All of the meaningful persons write down specific data about the events and behaviors involving the dependent person’s chemical use which legitimatize their concern.
3. All the meaningful persons tell the dependent person how they feel about what has been happening in their lives, and they do it in a nonjudgmental way.
4. The victim is offered specific choices – this treatment center, or that hospital.

Sample intervention introduction when the victim arrives:
“______________________ (the name of the chemically dependent person), we’re all here because we care about you and want to help. This is going to be difficult for you and for us, but one of the requests I have to start out with is that you give us the chance to talk and promise to listen, however hard that may be. We know it’s not going to be easy for the next little while… Would you help us by just listening?”

Professional help should be sought if any of the following apply:
– The chemically dependent person has a history of mental illness;
– His or her behavior has been violent, abusive, or extremely erratic;
– He or she has been profoundly depressed for a period of time; or
– You suspect polydrug abuse but lack sufficient information or eyewitness accounts of the victim’s actual usage.
Hope this helps those who are considering an intervention as a way of getting help for their loved one. The most important thing when dealing with any intervention is to seek God’s will and direction. We serve a prayer answering God and He is able to help when others say it is hopeless.

For additional information on how to conduct an intervention you might want to order the following book:

Johnson, Vernon E. Intervention: How to help someone who doesn’t want help. Minneapolis, Minnesota: The Johnson Institute, 1986.

Basic Bible Study Tips

The Bible says, “All Scripture is inspired by God, and is profitable” (2 Timothy 3:16). Reading the Bible is profitable! But there are many Christians who don’t know how to read God’s Word. It’s so important for Christians to learn how to study the Bible for themselves. If you’ve never read your Bible before, now is a good time to start! The following are some practical tips to help make your Bible study a little bit easier:

There are many different English versions of the Bible available today. Unless you understand the Old English of 1611 really well, then you will have a hard time understanding the King James Version. I recommend a modern version like the New King James Version, because it is easier to understand (that’s the version I mainly use). Get a good study Bible – it will help you understand how the Bible applies to your life. If you have problems reading, or just don’t like to read, then get the Bible on CD or MP3, watch Bible videos (Visual Bible – Matthew & Acts), or get someone to read to you!

Eventually you’ll want to read every word of the Bible; however, it does not have to be read straight through from page one. Since it is a library of sixty-six books, you can begin almost anywhere. If you are new to the Bible, try starting your reading in the New Testament with the book of Mark. It is a short, fast-paced account of the life of Jesus Christ. This book will give you a dramatic introduction to the events that changed the world and can change your life. Studying the life of Jesus will help you get to know God better, because Jesus said that when we see Him, we see the Father. Next try John, two books after Mark.

Because God is the author of the Bible, He can help us understand what we read! Jesus said the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth. You may want to pray a simple prayer like this: “Father God, please give me spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that I might grow in my knowledge of You. May my heart be flooded with light so that I can understand the wonderful future You have promised to me. Help me to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance You have given to me as one of your children, in Jesus’ name, Amen!” (adapted from Eph. 1:17-18).

This helps keep your mind active in the learning process. It forces you to think about what you read and it helps you to remember what you’ve read. Ask yourself questions as you’re reading through the Scripture, like – what does this verse teach me about the following:

a. God’s nature (what He is like-loving, holy, just, merciful, etc.);
b. My nature (the nature of human beings);
b. God’s Commandments (what God requires of me);
c. God’s Promises (what God has promised to do for me)?

This is the most important step in your process of Bible study. Don’t just be a “hearer of the Word, but a doer!” Look for ways to apply the Word to your life. This is the ultimate goal of Bible study. For example, if you read a passage on loving others, look for ways to show love! The Bible was not written just to be studied, but to change lives.

Some Basic Bible Study Tools:

a) Bible Dictionary (i.e. Unger’s Concise Bible Dictionary);
b) Biblical Concordance (i.e. The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible);
c) Bible Atlas (i.e. Baker’s Bible Atlas);
d) Bible Handbook (i.e. Halley’s Bible Handbook);
e) Commentaries (i.e. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries);
f) The one most seem to use these days is good ole Google!  But be careful and check the source!

Pain and Suffering

This has been one of those weeks where I have witnessed church folks hurting both physically and emotionally. Here are some thoughts on pain and suffering that came to mind as I considered the apostle Paul. Keep in mind these are just late-night blog thoughts and not a theological statement to challenge anyone’s belief.

First, when one is born again he or she becomes joint-heirs with the Christ (Romans 8:17). This blessing is experienced in many diverse ways. The apostle Paul specifically addressed the New Testament Church in regard to suffering as part of the believers’ life in Jesus Christ. Jesus in His humanity suffered greatly. When one wants to be Christ-like he or she is saying in a sense that they want to not only be like Him in His glory but like Him as He suffered and died here among us. The Christian life is not always comfortable and convenient but also at times painful.

Second, Paul reminded believers that the future glory would indeed far outweigh the suffering that they were experiencing. It is true for us today that we will one day leave this present stage of suffering and enjoy the blessing of glory through Christ in heaven. Therefore when considering Paul’s theology of suffering it can be said that he believed suffering was as much a part of the believers life as any other aspect of Christian living.

Third, “the love of Christ” which has been granted to the believer is a promise that one can hold on to and know that it cannot be taken away from him or her.  And because of this great promise we can know that we are more than conquerors through what Jesus Christ has already done on the cross in our behalf.  Paul saw suffering not as negative or fatalistic but also as a positive way the believer could share in the work of Jesus Christ.  Suffering was a positive way for Paul to live for Christ. Paul told Timothy that he suffered and that anyone who chose to follow Christ could expect to suffer for His sake. This indicates that Paul believed that the more one was devoted to Christ the more he or she might suffer for Christ. The attitude the believer should have toward suffering should be different than the unbeliever.  Yes, we suffer and grieve but not as those with no grace and/or hope (2 Corinthians 12:8, 1 Thessalonians 4:13).

There is no salvation merit in our suffering. Christ paid the price for our salvation/redemption at Calvary. Because of what Jesus has already done in His death and resurrection we can, as vessels, show the World Jesus through our Christian living. The suffering we are now experiencing or will experience in this life is only temporal (2 Corinthians 4:17). Our faith will become a reality in the future glory that we will possess through Him who died for us. We shall see Him!

The pain is real but the promises of God are as well. Christ said He would never leave us (Matthew 28:20).

One of my favorite hymns is When We See Christ by Esther Kerr Rusthoi. For those who might be suffering I hope the following words bring you some comfort:

Oft times the day seems long, our trials hard to bear,
We’re tempted to complain, to murmur and despair;
But Christ will soon appear to catch His Bride away,
All tears forever over in God’s eternal day.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Sometimes the sky looks dark with not a ray of light,
We’re tossed and driven on , no human help in sight;
But there is one in heav’n who knows our deepest care,
Let Jesus solve your problem – just go to Him in pray’r.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Life’s day will soon be o’er, all storms forever past,
We’ll cross the great divide, to glory, safe at last;
We’ll share the joys of heav’n – a harp, a home, a crown,
The tempter will be banished, we’ll lay our burden down.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Are You Left-Brained or Right-Brained?

Biology and psychology tend to overlap on this subject. Psychology is concerned with behavior and mental process. Psychologist would say the question can be answered through proper mental analysis. Biologist would say this question can only be determined if the left and right sides are disconnected.

The debate concerns the makeup of the brain and the break-down of its function into a left hemisphere and a right hemisphere. Are there such individuals as left-brained persons or right-brained persons? Yes. The brain is composed of different parts however the portion that centers in this debate is the cerebral cortex which is made up of two rounded halves called the cerebral hemispheres. The two halves are connected by the corpus callosum.

The two halves are involved in different mental processes. The left side is more analytical and the right side is more practical. The right side of the brain cannot use language to describe a stimulus but the left can. The left cannot identify the stimulus from touch but the right can. The two sides communicate through the corpus callosum.

Again, Biologist say a person cannot recognize what side of the brain is being used unless the corpus callosum is severed. This surgical procedure has been performed and studies support the theory that the left side and right side perform these different functions. But let’s not have our brains cut in half over the issue! Let’s just say left-brainers tend to be more analytical and right-brainers are more practical. I would say I am more of a left-brained person. What about you? Are you a lefty or a righty?

Lahey, Benjamin B. Psychology. Dubuque, Iowa: Brown & Benchmark Publishers, 1995.

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