So Why are We So Surprised?

Paul wrote to the believers in Rome,

“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity” (Romans 12:2 JBP).

Never was the need for Paul’s plea more evident than in what you are about to hear here in this PODCAST.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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Knocked Down, But NEVER Knocked Out

As you will hear in this PODCAST, Peter will write this extraordinary sentence:

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”

Trials, I will remind you, that cost Peter’s readers everything.

How did they do it? How was it possible for them—How is it possible for us?—to rejoice when they/we are experiencing the crushing weight of heavy-hearted emotion?

You are only 45 minutes away from knowing the answer.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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How I Lost My Faith (and Got It Back Again)–My Two-Year Odyssey in a Spiritual Wasteland

I am coming off of an exhilarating week with the BEST high school students you’d ever want to meet.

In this PODCAST, you will hear my opening night message at Hartland Christian Camp. Believing that “openness begets openness,” I get very open, very real, very fast—with them, and now with you.

May my words be a blessing.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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The Rip Heard ‘Round the World

Think of it. As you will hear in this encore PODCAST

(An encore because I am speaking at one of my all-time favorite places in the world, Hartland Christian Camp)…

Promptly at 3 PM…

Exactly at That.Very.Moment when Jesus breathed His last…

Precisely to the second when Jesus exclaimed, “It is finished. Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit”…

This happened:

“Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”

Do you have any idea what that means? It will take the remainder of this discussion for us even to begin to understand What.That.Means.

Why did God tear the veil?

It was obviously God who ripped it. No human hand could possibly tear it. That veil was an elaborately woven fabric that stood 60 feet high, equal in height to a seven-story building. No one could tear that curtain. Only God could tear that curtain.

Which only amplifies the question, Why?

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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“Weight-ing” on the Lord

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, the time has come for us to have a sensible discussion about an issue that has been grossly misunderstood, and consequently grievously mis-taught, in far too many Christian settings. All of this causing so much harm spiritually, mentally, and emotionally to so many.

Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Oh, my dear friends, get ready to be set free!

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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The PRESERVATION of the Saints

As you are about to hear this PODCAST, it was a night that Peter would never, ever forget.

Nor should we.

For embedded within the events of this night is a blessedly-enduring word of hope and assurance. Hope and assurance for you. Hope and assurance for me. And certainly hope and assurance for someone or someones whom you and I deeply love.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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“And Just When You Thought All Was Lost…”

“And just when you thought all was lost…”

As you will hear in this PODCAST, after his customary-yet-warm greeting, Peter could have begun his first foray into his rather short-lived, two-letter, dual-epistle-writing career with these words:

“And just when you thought all was lost…”

Because for Peter’s original readers, All.Was.Lost!

For these now-“scattered abroad exiles” had just been forcibly removed from their homes, had their lives permanently disrupted, and their families dramatically displaced.

Many-if-not-most of them were barely holding on, more surviving than thriving. Precious people precariously perched on the precipice of the abyss of uncertainty, just trying to make it through yet-another threatening day.

All of that to say that Peter could have begun this First Epistle of Peter with the words,

“And just when you thought all was lost…”

Because that was how they felt.

Just.Like.Some.of.Us.

Our challenges may not actually be as dire as theirs. But it sure feels that way some days, doesn’t it? Like we’re just barely hanging on? Like we’re more surviving than thriving? Like we’re maybe one step away from giving up?

“And just when you thought all was lost…”

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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A Word About Women (Courtesy of Jesus)–A Timely and Sadly-Necessary Theological Correction

OK, dear friends. In this encore PODCAST (while I am away speaking), we are about to leap off of the high dive into the shark-infested waters of what has become today an unnecessarily emotionally-charged, needlessly controversial issue among many of our so-called evangelical/fundamental churches.

One that has done immeasurable damage to the precious women in far too many congregations.

It absolutely sickens me to think how so many of us men have depreciated the value of women in the work of God.

And as you will hear ever-so loudly and clearly, it sickens Jesus too.

Who would have thought that women, specifically the role of women within the work of God on this earth, would become a hotbed of controversy? But it has.

And just in case you are wondering here at the “get-go” whether or not I am a complimentarian or an egalitarian on this issue. I am neither. Oh how I hate labels. Words that mean different things to different people (usually inaccurately so) with little or no nuance. Words that carry so much baggage.

That said, I have but one agenda: To let the Bible speak for itself with minimal commentary from me. All to make this one undeniable point as loud and clear, crystal clear as we can:

God has dramatically used, presently uses, and will continue to use women to further His purposes on this planet. Both inside and outside of local churches.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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God, bless You!

Image courtesy of Sabbath Truth

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, Peter begins his first lovely little letter literally with a literary explosion. It’s as if he has so much that he wants to say so quickly, that the syllables come pouring out of him like a waterfall of words.

Believe it or not, verse 3 all the way to verse 12 is one long and winding and wondrously scenic sentence. You heard that right. A grand total of 315 words (in the NLT), all of which form one single sentence. Only the first part of which we will discuss now, with so much more rich and glorious truth to follow in the coming weeks.

There is an life-altering, soul-stirring insight embedded in verse 3 that we would do well to consider. Since verses 1 & 2 serve as Peter’s greeting, the letter itself actually begins with Verse 3.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

A rather remarkable statement given dire circumstances in which Peter’s original readers were living. We’ve already detailed them for you in the previous two podcasts. I’ll simply remind you that due to circumstances beyond their control—an empire-wide persecution at the bloody hands the infamously ruthless Nero—these were precious people—committed Christ-followers each, each our ancestors in faith—who had literally lost everything.

Even to the point of potentially losing their freedom and even their lives.

Theirs were the darkest of clouds with no silver linings.

A very fragile people living on the precipice with no safety net, clinging to their lives lived under the capricious actions of an unpredictable madman.

So if you were Peter, someone who fully understood and appreciated their seemingly insurmountable challenges—fears, insecurities, uncertainties—why would you begin your letter to them with the words,

“Blessed be the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”?

Does that not sound like a typically empty Christian cliché?

What prompted Peter to write with such audacity as to command his readers—including us—to bless God:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Even in the absolute worst of circumstances?

Obviously, Peter’s words, “Bless be the God,” did not come out of a vacuum. Fact is, there is a long and rich history to these words, and the life-altering, soul-stirring insight embedded within them.

Peter’s opening line was anything but a cutesy little Christian cliché. Not to his original readers. After hearing this podcast, not to us.

Although this does raise one intriguing question:

Bless God?

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”?

I thought God blesses us.

How in the world do you and I bless God?

The answer to that question will change your life.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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Safe and Secure

Image courtesy of mudpreacher.org

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, all you need to know about the precious people to whom Peter wrote is summarized in three telling terms. One phrase, really.

One phrase that so accurately described them.

One phrase that so accurately describes each of us.

κ-λεκ-τος παρ-επι-δ-μοις διασ-πορς—literally, “elect foreigners in the diaspora.”

Now why in the world would Peter begin his first letter with this carefully crafted first phrase?

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect foreigners in the diaspora.”

Because the one question looming in minds of Peter’s distressed audience was this:

Has God abandoned us?

Not to get too personal with you, and at the risk of invading your private space, I cannot help but to wonder if you have ever asked of yourself that exact same question:

Has God abandoned me?

And Peter wanted them—and us—and you!—to know that as he penned this epistle, that same question was looming large in his own mind and his own soul.

Peter knew his audience.

Peter knew them.

Peter knows us.

Peter knows you!

Peter feels our pain.

Peter asks our questions.

Peter understands our doubts.

Peter feels our fears.

Peter can relate.

Peter “gets” it.

Peter “gets” us.

And I, for one, am profoundly grateful that he does.

And in “getting” us, he will assure us in this podcast that NO!!! God has NOT abandoned you. He has NOT turned His back on you. He will NEVER stop loving you. He will NEVER leave you. He will not now or EVER forsake you.

In a word, we are SECURE in His omnipotent hand.

Aren’t you glad?

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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