We Want You

A post I wrote on our church’s Facebook page. I think (so I could be wrong) it should go for every church and for every individual Christian as well…

If you are lost, or just lost your way.
If you are hurt, hurting, or have been hurt.
If you need something, but can’t seem to figure out what it is.
If you are looking for something, but can’t seem to find it.
If you are different.
If you are messy.
If you are raw.
If you don’t fit in.
We want you at Apostles.
At Apostles you will not find another program or manufactured performance.
You will not get pragmatic, feel good lessons that are an inch deep and a mile wide.
You will not get fake people who smile at you out of one side of their mouth and curse you with the other.
You will get people who have been lost, who have been hurt, who found what they needed, who found what they were looking for, who are still different, messy, and raw and aren’t looking to fit in to a prepackaged mold, but instead want to pursue God and bring Him glory.
You will get people who still stumble and fall, but also know how to get back up and keep going and are willing to offer a hand to those who stumble, those who fall, and those who are in need.
You will get people who will listen and who will try to understand and through it all will point to the one who overcomes everything and everyone.
You will get people who love Jesus and love you.
That’s who we are and we want you at Apostles.


We are not born innocent

We are born sinners

We are not pure of heart

Our hearts are deceitful

Our ways are not good only to be tainted by what we are taught

Our ways are wicked from the beginning

Hatred, envy, greed, lust, selfishness are all inborn characteristics

We are born unrighteous into a fallen world

And we stay that way

It is who we are


So, do not be dumbfounded

When you see the unspeakable

Do not be amazed at the depths to which man can fall

And ask how can this be?

It can be because it is who we are

The murderer, the rapist, the slanderer, the racist

It is you

It is me

It is us

And we cannot overcome by pretending it isn’t us

By pretending we are not born this way

We cannot overcome by pretending we are good

We cannot overcome by passing a law

Or saying the correct thing or by imagining that the flaws in them

Are not the flaws in us


Our only hope is One who has overcome

Overcome sin for us

Overcome deceit for us

Overcome hate and envy and greed and racism for us

Overcome the very world that we are born into

Overcome our very selves

You cannot grow out of who you are

But you can be born again

Born anew

Born into a new life

Not by works or by anything you say or do

But by the One who overcomes

By the Overcomer


If there is to be hope



It will not come from you

Or me

Or them

But it comes from the Overcomer

For He has overcome

Down for the Struggle

If you are struggling. Keep struggling.

It’s better than not struggling.

Better than giving in.

Better than giving up.


Everyone struggles. There is no way around it. You have struggled, are struggling, and will struggle.

It’s called life.


And contrary to some Christian teachers today, becoming a Christian does not exempt you from struggles.


Our struggles are with circumstances. With sin. With ourselves.


The problem today is that too often we look at our circumstances and say:

I can’t change anything. This is my lot in life.

So we just accept our circumstances.


We look at our sin and say:

What I am doing is not that bad. Heck, what I am doing shouldn’t be a sin.

And many times we draw a line in the sand, saying I will not cross this line and do that and then we cross it and we draw another line and cross it and draw another line and cross it and draw another line and cross it and draw another line and cross it and soon we have drawn so many lines we can’t even look back and remember where we started.

So we just accept our sin (we don’t even call sin sin anymore).


We look at ourselves and say:

This is just who I am. I am me and there is no need to change.

So we just accept who we are and never look to improve or change…because I can’t change my circumstance and I can’t change my sin, so why change who I am.


We have become too accustomed to giving in too easily.

At the first sign of trouble or struggle, we give up.


But we need to struggle. We need to fight.

If you are struggling with something, keep struggling. Don’t be concerned or depressed or disillusioned if you are struggling with a circumstance or a sin or yourself.

That’s a good sign.

If you are struggling and kicking through something, that means you recognize that there is something better.

It is when you stop struggling and just accept things that there needs to be concern.

It means you have given up or given in.


And as Christians we are called to not give up or give in to the world around us or the sin within us.


The Apostle Paul says we are to press on to our goal. And our goal is Jesus.

Jesus has overcome the world.

If Jesus has overcome the world – and we have Jesus – we can overcome our circumstances, our sin, ourselves.


Paul says we are to press on.

He says we are to strain forward.

We are to struggle.


And in that struggle we will win.

We lose when we don’t struggle. When we don’t press on. When we don’t strain forward.


Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV)


Keep struggling.

Keep straining.

Keep fighting.


You may lose some battles, but you will win the war.

That Great Sermon?

That sermon was great. It was amazing. We hear this all the time from so many people every Sunday.
Oh wow, the sermon today was great.

For a sermon to be great it has to be effective and for it to be effective change has to happen and for change to happen Jesus has to be involved and the Spirit has to move.

How many great sermons from great preachers is it going to take before something changes in your life?
Your circumstances haven’t changed. But the message was great.
Your view of your circumstances hasn’t changed. But the message was great.
You know God wants you to do something and wants something different for you and your life, but you still struggle and question everything. But the message was great.

Let’s move away from the personal and move to a more macro view of things…
There are numerous preachers and pastors that are extremely gifted orators. They can weave humor, pop culture references and pragmatism with scripture and they do so with a skill that rivals professional speakers and actors.
These preachers and pastors are leading small, medium, large, and mega churches. Because of technology, their reach is almost unlimited. No longer bound by the confines of a building, their words and teachings can travel not only out of their town, but even out of their state and country!
Every week they deliver messages that reach audiences small and large and every week countless people will comment to each other, either in person or on social media, that the message that they heard was great.

And yet the church universal has problems. Church attendance is on the decline. The percentage of people who identify as Christians is on the decline. Non-believers have an extremely negative view of churches and Christians. Ask people what word comes to mind when they think of Christians and the words hypocritical and judgmental pop up the most often.

But the sermon was great.

Again, unless these ‘great sermons’ are generating changes in our lives, our circumstances and the way we view our circumstances, and the way we treat those around us, they really can’t be that great.

Part of the problem is that today’s preachers, pastors, and teachers – gifted as they may be in delivering smooth, polished sermons that hit the right tones and tickle the right ears – are missing something.

The Apostle Paul gives a clue as to what is missing in the sermons and in our lives and what is needed in order to bring about the change that should result when one preaches and when one hears a truly great message.
“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)

A message that is delivered smoothly with funny anecdotes is not the definition of a great sermon. A great sermon is one that has the Spirit behind it.

If you walk away marveling at a message or are in awe of a speaker/teacher/preacher your focus is on the wrong thing and the speaker has done a poor job of allowing God’s Spirit to work.

We should walk away in awe of God. Preachers are to shine the light on God and His Son and His Spirit. That is what changes people. Not “great” messages.

Lesser of two evils…

Another election season…another time of melodramatic, hyperbolic wranglings about people moving if ‘so-and-so’ is elected, or how if ‘the-other-so-and-so’ is elected it will be the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine).

You aren’t moving. And the world will keep turning after Nov. 8th.

I’ve written about this before (see archives) but it bears repeating:

God is not going to look down upon the earth on the morning of Nov. 9th and say, “They elected who??!!??”  Even though this year it may seem He has all the more reason to do that –  In reality, God will look down and it will be just as He planned.

You see, it is God who really elects leaders – (Deuteronomy 2:20-22; Daniel 4:17; John 19:10-11; Romans 13:1)

He is in control. Always.

It is something as Christians we would do good to remember – that despite any and all circumstances – He. Is. In. Control.

Forever in control.

Yes, the choices may not seem to make sense. And this year they may seem to make even less sense. It has always been that depending on your political party the opposition candidate was a harbinger of horrible things. This year it appears that most people are resigned to the fact that both candidates aren’t very good (putting it mildly) and realize they are voting for the lesser of two evils.

I was going to wax poetically about these choices and how we shouldn’t be focusing on the candidates and the end of the world and all that but instead be focused – always – on God and His power and His sovereignty…and then I came across this from C.S. Lewis…

“I feel a strong desire to tell you–and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me–which of these two errors is the worse. That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs–pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.”
–CS Lewis



Just another poem. How do I live? How do I carry on despite everything? Everything the world is throwing at me and everything of my own doing? This contains my answer… 


I have hope

Despite it all


The folly of it does not escape me

I am not totally blind

To the world I see

Not yet

I cling with aching fingers to it

The irrationality of hope


The drumbeat gets louder

Beating relentlessly

Pound, pound, pound

I am not submitted



Not just outside

But inside I am aware of my fault

They do it to me

I do it to myself

Another attack, another incursion

Another slip-up, another misstep

But I do not give in

Not yet


Instead I bow down

In the face of pain




Everything the world throws out at me

Everything I throw at myself

I bow down

To the only One who can make something

Of this disorder

He is the Reason


Despite it all

I still have hope

Beyond All Belief

Just another writing. How things are bad and good at the same time and how the echoes of the good come from God. Or something totally different. 

Beyond All Belief

There is a smell within the aroma of Spring

The sweetness of the grass and its tickle in the nose

Is interrupted ever so slightly

Ever so slightly

By something that doesn’t fit

Something that doesn’t belong

That seems out of place

Is it me?


The grandeur of God in all His creation

From the galaxies and stars to the rocks and sand

Something is off ever so slightly

Ever so slightly

Something doesn’t make sense

Something can’t make sense

It is never steady

Is it me?


There is sickness and death and disruption

It is there and can be felt by all

It ruins perfection ever so slightly

Ever so slightly

Nothing is correct

Nothing is right

And I smile

Is it me?


In the good the bad is there

In the bad I feel its weight

Hoping for good to break free ever so slightly

Ever so slightly

By something

By someone

By anything

Can it be?


In this juxtaposition of death with hints of life

Good with echoes of bad

Ever so slightly showed itself

As beyond all belief

Wrong made right

Bad made good

By One who only knows


Let it be

Running to Nowhere


Just a poem on feelings from a moment in time…not much explanation is needed (I don’t think)…

Running to Nowhere

I can’t see the light

Unforeseen forces push me about

Doubts fill my head

It won’t stop until I’m dead


Running from you

Running to you


I’m running



Running to nowhere

Running to you


You are the question

I cannot ask

You are the answer

I cannot hear

And still I run

I run

I run




I’m running



Running to nowhere

Running to you


I have no direction

I go down not up

Standing still is not an option

So I run

From you

To you

I run


I’m running



Running to nowhere

Running to you

I hope

Where’s Ya Hope?

I have written about this before. Bears repeating, especially as the 2016 election heats up. Too often during political seasons we put our hope in politicians and also predict doom and gloom when someone we don’t like or agree with gets elected. Nothing wrong with that – unless you are a Christian. We believe God is in control, right?  Anyway, just another post with very few edits. Just starting writing and putting down thoughts for the purpose, as always, to Put in Your Theological Pipe…

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

(Romans 13:1 ESV)


“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.”

(Proverbs 21:1 ESV)


Are you a Christian first or a Republican or Democrat first?

Just think about that for a minute and then realize God will not look down from His throne on Nov. 9, 2016, the day after the election, and say, “Whhhaattttt? He or she was elected? Uh, Son, back to the drawing board.”

The Bible makes it clear that God is a Sovereign God and that He is the one who grants leaders authority and He is the one who directs their paths. If you are a Christian and you believe the Bible it would be beneficial to remember that as this election season heats up.

As your chosen candidate (be they the Republican nominee or Democrat nominee) campaigns they will undoubtedly use the age-old tactics of attacking and demonizing their opponents and their followers. And just because this tactic works it doesn’t mean it is something we should take part in or agree with. The Bible says the world will know we are Christians by our love and it doesn’t make exceptions for politics. With the rise of social media it is easier than ever to broadcast your feelings for not only your friends and families to see, but their friends and their families, and their friends friends and families families and so on and so on. Remembering that God is in control is vital for us as we post memes and links to articles calling politicians and their followers Nazis or Communists or Fascists or whatever. Heck, that may even be true…and if God, in His infinite wisdom decides to put one of them in power, our job is to continue to love others and to trust God and to be the face of Jesus to everyone and also to pray for that leader, whoever they may be and even if we disagree with them (that’s Biblical too).

Many think the opposition candidate is going to be evil personified. Fine. Go back are read a little about the Roman leaders that ruled during Christ’s time. They used to capture Christians and burn them alive in the garden so they could enjoy the flowers at night. Guess what, God was the one who gave them authority. I don’t know why, but God’s ways are higher than ours. Yes, at times it seems crazy and even stupid that He would allow certain leaders to come to power, but He does. It does not change His Sovereignty and it should not change our trust in Him. Oh sure, we can question Him and even wonder if He has lost His mind, but He hasn’t and we need to always return to trusting Him and being ambassadors for His Son.

Here is a little secret, when you go to church on Sunday mornings – you are worshipping with Republicans and Democrats and Independents and Libertarians and people who could care less about politics. Heck, there are probably some people who are very conservative on some issues and very liberal on other issues and middle of the road on others…the thing is – God loves them all. God’s requirement for salvation is repentance of sin and trust in His Son. There is no political party requirement and our love should shine for all to see – even those who do not hold the same political beliefs.

I know what some of you are thinking. But, the Bible says this and that and my party is for this and that, so therefore I am right. OK, let’s pretend that is true and that your party would actually follow through with their promises. Is that what you are resting your hope on – Your political party doing what they promised (which hardly ever happens)? Or is your hope in Jesus? It better be on Jesus.

You see, Jesus often taught His disciples to avow themselves of the democratic process and to get involved in political fights and to use the power of the government to affect change in the world. Oh wait, no He didn’t. In fact, quite the opposite, his few mentions of the government and governing authorities were to submit yourselves to them. Jesus understood and taught that this world is not our home and that even though we live here in this time and under the governments that are in place, there is another kingdom – the Kingdom of God – and for the Christian that should take precedence. It is in that Kingdom and that Kingdom alone that you will find your true God-given nature and find the satisfaction you are seeking.

We are told to preach the Kingdom of God, not the benefits of being a democrat or republican or libertarian or socialist or whatever. The Kingdom of God is where God rules and we were told by John the Baptist that the Kingdom of God is at hand. The Kingdom will be fully established when Jesus returns. Our job then is to prepare ourselves and others.

We prepare ourselves by repenting of our sins, trusting Jesus for our salvation, and being baptized. Once we do that we become citizens of the Kingdom…and our focus should be preaching that Kingdom to others…and when we preach forgiveness of sin and the mercy and grace and love of God that is shown through the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus it would be extremely hypocritical to do so and to then turn around and call people names and demonize them for their political beliefs and to put your hope in politicians.

So, should you vote? Yes. Should you discuss your political beliefs, sure, but in love. And it should all be done knowing and trusting that in the end God is in control. He always has been and always will be. It may not make sense that such and such candidate is elected, it may even seem crazy – heck it may be totally crazy – but that is just what God wants and He will use it to fulfill His plans.

So Christians, put your trust in God, not in politicians or political parties. If you trust Him, you will. And also, be aware of what face you are showing to the world at home, at the store, at work, and on social media. Are you showing the face of your political leader/party of choice or of Jesus?

The Heart of the Gospel

Just another one. Something to think about, go hmmm about, put in your theological pipe (so to speak).  Are there holes in this one?  Yeah there are in everything that I write.  But so what, they’re just thoughts and things to think about and question and disagree with (if you want to be wrong) or agree with (if you want to be right). 🙂  Kidding, kidding. 

Remember that time Jesus found that guy or girl and they were engaged in that sin?

I believe it was sin A or maybe it was sin B.

Remember His reaction?

How he was incredulous about their behavior?

Remember the Bible using not only red letters to show that he was speaking, but using ALL CAPS TO SHOW JUST HOW MAD HE WAS?

Remember Jesus not only calling them out forcibly, but actually calling the sinners devils, in fact he made it even more specific and called them Satan?

Remember that?

Yeah. Me neither.

But I do remember Jesus having some harsh words for religious leaders.

  • “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Matthew 23:13)
  • “Woe to you, blind guides…” (Matthew 23:18)
  • “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil?” (Matthew 12:34)

I also remember that time Jesus had a harsh reaction to religious people in the temple.

  • “And Jesus entered the temple sand drove out all who sold and brought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.” (Matthew 21:12)

I remember Jesus calling out his disciples for their lack of faith and he wasn’t nice about it.

  • “O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?” (Luke 9:41)

And there was this one time Jesus called one of this followers Satan.

  • “Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”” (Matthew 16:23)

In fact, here are a few of the words Jesus used for his followers and the religious leaders of his day:

Whited sepulchers


Blind guides




A generation of vipers

And more.

Yes. Sin is sin.

Yes it separates us from God.

Yes. Jesus is the way the truth and the light and NO ONE comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

And our job – is to model Jesus and recreate what He did when He came in contact with sinners, with the lost, with the hurting.

He showed grace and mercy.

Jesus showed love and compassion on those who were lost.

He saved his harshest words for the religious leaders and his followers.

We have the Gospel – which is good news.

Telling someone who is lost and hurting that they are Satan is not good news.

Telling them about the love and grace of our Savior is.

If you want to call someone Satan or get in someone’s face or get angry about something – do it to other believers who are missing the heart of the Gospel.

That’s what Jesus did.

He offered grace and mercy to the lost and hurting.

And he offered chastisement and tough words to believers who were missing that heart.