Strap on your Sword!


sword copy

One of the most inspiring accounts contained in Old Testament scripture concerning the resiliency and work ethic of God’s people can be found in the book of Nehemiah. If you want the full picture of what is happening you need to go back to the book of Jeremiah.


The short version:

Jeremiah was a prophet of God who spoke concerning the need for people to repent and to turn again to God (Jeremiah 20). The people did not heed his warning. So, in Daniel 1 we read that God gave them over to king Nebuchadnezzar. The nation of Israel was now in Babylonian exile. In the book of Nehemiah, we read of a man named Nehemiah who played a significant role in rebuilding Jerusalem following their time in exile. In this fascinating book, we read of the struggles that Nehemiah faced in his work. We read of the ups (Having a tremendous “hardworking mindset” (4:16), and the wall being completed in an astounding 52 days.) We also read of the downs, (People spreading lies, rumors, and threats of death). Through all this Nehemiah remained true to his task until it was complete.


Perhaps my favorite part of this account is found in Nehemiah 4. It is at this point that the formerly exiled people are afraid for their lives. They have heard that their enemies are planning to attack and kill them in order to halt the progress of rebuilding Jerusalem. What do the people do? Are they paralyzed with fear? Do they cave in to the pressure to halt the work? Nehemiah 4:18 states, “Each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built.”


You might think based on the current political climate that I might use this passage to make some sort of political point about guns and weaponry. However, nowhere in scripture do I find that being a focal point, therefore it will not be the focal point of this post.


What is the point?


The point is, God’s people have work to do. They had work to do then, and we have work to do now. I fear that far too often we fall into a trap that Satan throws in front of us and we allow ourselves to get so worked up and passionate about details that we fail to see the big picture. We have work to do. Our work is more important than politics. Our work is more important than social standing. Our work is more important than anything else. It is my prayer for the church that we are known for our love (John 13:35), our commitment to truth (John 14:1-3), and our mission of making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). We have work in front of us, we have building to do. Keep moving forward.


In Him,


Jesus, Friend of Sinners

Friend of sinnersReligious people, have often fallen in the trap of being hypocrites, and holier than thou. It was true in the days of Jesus, and if we are not careful, it can be true of us today as well. In Luke chapter 7 this is pointed out clearly. Many people mocked John the Baptist because he did not look like them. He did not dress like them. He did not eat and drink like them. V. 33 tells us that because of John’s abstaining from these things many people accused him of having a demon. In their mind, it was the only explanation for his actions.


Jesus enters the picture. He isn’t dressed like John the Baptist. He is behaving differently, in fact, He is found eating with “tax collectors and sinners.” Now, these same people who mocked John the Baptist for abstaining from certain things and activities are chastising Jesus for doing the opposite. In their rage against Christ, they mocked Him. They called Him a glutton and a drunkard. They called Him a “friend to tax collectors and sinners.”


I would submit to you that the label that they gave Him, “friend of sinners” although they meant it in the negative, Christ took as a compliment. Jesus was (and is) a friend to sinners. I for one am grateful for this!


What being a friend to sinners means:


         Naturally, there are those that want to apply their own ideas as to what it means to be a friend to sinners. They may twist a verse here and there and abuse this idea. Some will teach that in order to win the lost, Jesus joined them in their lifestyle. Meaning that He either participated in or gave approval to their sin.

Jesus did not in Luke 7, nor any other text participate or give approval to sin. However, He did go out of His way to make sure that the sinner was, and felt, loved.


He wanted them to feel important: As we read of the lowly tax collector named Zacchaeus in Luke 19. A man that was despised by many for his profession, and possibly for personal corruption. We find Jesus singling out this little man saying, “I’m going to your house today.”

He wanted them to be heard: We read of a lengthy dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Not only did Jews not typically pass through Samaria, they did not speak to the Samaritans. When Jesus came, that changed.

He wanted to calm the fearful: In John 3 we read of Nicodemus coming to Jesus by the cover of night. The text does not tell us for certain, but it isn’t a stretch to assume he did so out of fear of being seen with Jesus. What does Jesus talk to him about? He spoke to him about being born again so he could see the kingdom of heaven.

He wanted to show love when no one else did: John chapter 8 details for us a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. A mob brings this woman to Jesus to test Him and see what needs to be done with her. After causing the angry mob to look at their own sinfulness, Jesus told her to go and sin no more.


What motivated Jesus to be a friend to sinners?


We must keep in mind in this discussion that never once was Jesus friendly toward sin. He was however friendly toward the sinner. Why? Simply put, He valued their soul.

Jesus was painfully aware of man’s lost condition. So much so that He spoke more about it than any one else in the NT. Out of the 14 times that the Greek word for Hell (γέεννα ) is used 12 times it is used by Jesus Himself. He knows better than anyone that people are lost and it broke His heart. It led Him to being a friend to those who needed it the most.


How can we, be a friend to sinners?

         We start by determining to actively seek souls: We must stop with the idea that “If people really want to know the truth, they know where to find us.” No, they don’t. They don’t know what the truth is, and they sure don’t know where to find it. We must take it to them.

In John 4:4 in the text dealing with the Samaritan woman we find an interesting phrase. The Bible tells us that Jesus “had to pass through Samaria.” If you look at a map, the quickest way for Him to get to Galilee from Judea was to pass through Samaria. Some have speculated that perhaps He was in a hurry and that is why He broke the custom of going the long way around to avoid the Samaritans. However, in V.40 the people asked Him to stay, and so He stayed for two days. It is apparent that Jesus “had to” pass through Samaria not because He was in a hurry, but because He needed to go to the lost.


We need to prioritize people over our schedule: Examine Matthew chapter 8-9 in your spare time. Look at all the interactions that Jesus had with people needing His help. He healed the leper, the centurion’s servant, healed the multitudes, calmed the storm, healed demon possessed men, healed the paralytic, answered doctrinal questions, healed blind men, healed the man unable to speak. Time after time, Jesus put people over His schedule.

Jesus was a friend to sinners. No, He did not sin. No, He did not condone sin. He did however, offer love, compassion, and help to those who were in sin. As a man who has sinned, I am eternally grateful for Jesus’ friendship with sinners. It is my prayer that the church collectively and individually will do a better job of extending friendship to those who are lost.

in Him,


“4 Questions Christians Need to Stop Asking”

Illustration Of A Old Question Sign Not Allowed  Generally speaking, I love it when I am teaching Bible class and someone raises their hand, or just interrupts me with a question. I enjoy the questions because often times the one asking, has a different view point than I do and I can learn from them. Other times I enjoy it simply because it means they are paying attention and trying to understand. I often encourage people to ask questions because I think it is a healthy thing to do.


However, I think there are some questions that are not only, “not healthy” but are damaging to themselves, and the church. No, these questions are not the questions typically asked in a Bible class setting. These are questions that are asked often only in the mind of the questioner. They rarely speak these questions out loud, though, they often think them.

Allow me to suggest 4 questions, that the Christian should never ask again:

  1. Do I have to go to every church service?

You know the question I’m referring to. Maybe it is from an individual who rarely attends a worship service and they are seeking justification for their decision to not go. Maybe it is the family that faithfully attends each Sunday morning worship service but is usually absent on Sunday night and Wednesday night. Regardless of the situation the question usually comes down to the same core question, “do I have to?”.

Allow me to approach this a bit differently than usual. I believe that it is extremely important for each Christian to be at every gathering of the Lord’s people that they can attend. I believe this because of the charge found in Hebrews 10:25 not to forsake the assembly. I believe Christians have an obligation to submit to the oversight of their elders (Hebrews 13:17) and if your elders ask you to be present at certain times for your benefit, you should listen to their wisdom and try to follow it. Most importantly, when the church meets on the Lord’s day it is to worship our God. It is my belief that nothing is more important than bringing honor and glory to God.

With that being said, let me tell you why I think this question is such a dangerous one to ask. It is dangerous because it is in keeping with a “checklist” mindset. The idea that Christianity is about checking items off of a list. As long as I have ________ then I can go to heaven. This mindset is dangerous. Look no further than the Rich young ruler in Matthew 19. He was a good man, he kept the commandments, and he was asking the question, “What do I still lack?” You see, he was a good man, and he cared about the truth. However, He was more interested in making sure he had “checked off” the appropriate items than he was with giving Jesus his heart.

Many Christians today who ask the above question, whether out loud or in their mind, are good people. They are nice, kind, generous, and law abiding people. However, many times, they have fallen short just like the rich young ruler by failing to truly give Christ their heart.

  1. Do I have to talk to people about Jesus, or can I just be a good example?

Throughout my lifetime, I have often heard Christians speak of evangelism in a way that distances themselves from any real responsibility in the matter.  One of the most common examples are Christians that suggest they do not ever have to verbally speak about the Gospel to the lost of this world, they simply need to live a good life and they have done their part.

Allow me to first say, that any evangelistic efforts made from Christians who are not living the life that they are trying to persuade others to follow, will fail. A Christian living in the footsteps of Christ is a prerequisite to effective evangelism. However, simply living a quiet life is not all it takes to do your part in bringing others to Christ.

In Matthew 10:27 Jesus instructed His disciples with these words, “What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.” There will always be the exception to the rule. The one who approaches a Christian because they notice something different about their life and ask them about their faith. However, it is incumbent upon the Christian to open their mouths and proclaim the greatness of their savior. 

  1. Can someone else do that?

This question dates back to Moses in Exodus 4. God was calling Moses to be the leader that He needed him to be. His response was to try to find someone else. Do you ever do that? Do I? When a new service opportunity is presented to the congregation is your first response to think of ways you can help or to just be glad that “someone will take care of that.”?

We are a busier people than perhaps ever before. However, we can never allow ourselves to be too busy for the work of the kingdom. In James 4:17, James writes “Whoever knows the good he ought to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” Don’t allow Satan to fool you into thinking that you are “escaping sin” because you aren’t doing the “bad things.” Recognize that we are not called to be a people who are known for all the things that we do NOT do. We are called to be known for what we do. (Matthew 5:16)

  1. If it isn’t broke, why fix it?

This question is a killer. It may be a good policy while talking about a vehicle. If my A/C is running fine in my car, I’m not going to replace it. However, this isn’t always the best mindset while speaking of the work of the church.

Colossians 3:23-24 reminds us that our work is not for us, it is for Christ. Ecclesiastes 9:10 tells us to work with all of our might in whatever we do. What can we learn from this? Well, instead of asking “has this worked for the last 10, 15, 20, 50 years?” We ought to be asking, “Can we make it better?”

*Disclaimer* – I feel the need to clarify that no matter what we want, we cannot change doctrine. We cannot change the Word of God. We cannot change His commands. The changes I’m speaking about are dealing with matters of operation and tradition.

            In Mark 7 Jesus chastises individuals that clung so tightly to traditions of man that they couldn’t see the things that were truly important. If we are not careful we can fall into the trap of getting so focused on tradition that we lose sight of the purpose.

Souls are at stake. May we never allow ourselves to get caught up in our own comfort and miss opportunities that are passing by. We should never settle for what is comfortable, but always pursue what is best.


In Him,


“Your god Has Fallen and He Can’t Get Up”


In the late 1980’s the phrase “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” became famous based on TV commercials. These commercials were for elderly people who lived alone and needed a “lifeline” in case they fell while they were home and no one was there to help pick them up. Smart idea.

     Does that phrase apply to your god?

1 Samuel 5:1-4 – When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. 3 And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. (ESV)

Notice this scene. The Philistines felt like they were on top of the world. They captured the ark and brought it into their camp. Obviously not paying any more respect to God than they did their idols they stuck the ark in the house of Dagon. Dagon was a false god of the Philistines. In this culture it was common practice when a people was defeated in battle the victors would often take their idols from them. This was a way of completely defeating them.

Imagine being one of these proud Philistines walking into the house of Dagon the next day to get a glimpse of your new trophy (the ark of God) only to find your god fallen to the ground. What would you do? Surely you would realize that this “god” is certainly no “God” and you would move on about your life. This is not what happened. The people “put him back in his place”. Only to arrive the next day to find the same scene, only this time Dagon was broken.

This seems silly, comical even. How could someone “prop up” their god and still continue to believe in him?

Probably very similar to:

  • Spending years working on your financial portfolio knowing that when you hit “that number” you will have peace in your life. Achieving that number, still having a void, so raising the number and trying again.
  • Assuring ourselves that everything will be better once we climb a little higher up the job ladder. I know the last promotion didn’t really help, but maybe the next one will.
  • Bouncing from relationship to relationship knowing that the next one will be the one that makes everything “right”.
  • Turning to that vice (alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sex, etc.) because we need to feel good. I know it didn’t last long last time, but maybe this time will be different.

Does this hit closer to home? Far too many times we are guilty of “propping up our god”. When the solution to our life is to turn our life over to the one, true God who never falls.

Hebrews 6:19-20- We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (ESV)