Tuesday, December 29, 2009


The first Bible study I did as a new Christian was the book of Romans. It was a great place to start! There is perhaps no other book in the Bible which presents the full spectrum of Christian doctrine as this letter penned by the Apostle Paul. Those were formative days for me in my baby steps with God, and getting these fundamentals under my belt gave me a solid foundation for spiritual development.

Our youth pastor met with me and two other young men in a weekly home study. The guide for our Romans study was a little paperback called, “How to Be a Christian, Without Being Religious,” authored by Fritz Ridenhour. That is a concept that jolts us when we hear it, even today, so you can imagine how arresting those words were when written over thirty years ago. Being a young Christian, however, I didn’t have so much baggage, and I just thought, “Right on!” That’s the way, we hippies talked back then—even those that had become “Jesus Freaks” (you had to have been there). I was saved out of the generation that thought anything to do with the establishment needed to be overthrown, anyway. So, when someone was suggesting that the Bible supported such a radical idea—it didn’t take me long to get on board!

Here’s the big idea: religion is trying to reach up to God, find God and please God through our own futile efforts, while Christianity is God reaching down to us, finding us and making us pleasing to Him through faith in Christ. That’s the Gospel and that’s the preeminent message of Romans. Pretty important! Don’t you agree? Grasping that message makes the difference between heaven and hell. There is a real danger that even if we get the message of grace at the outset, and are truly saved, that we may revert back to religion, stunting our spiritual growth.

We are looking forward to our sermon series this year as week by week we travel the Roman Road through this fascinating letter. It all begins this Sunday morning with a message, “Good News for a Change.” In addition, I plan on sending a weekday e-mail to lead you into some deeper dimensions of Sunday’s message. Come, get on the Bible Bus! Romans was a great point for me to board and you will find a great adventure as God transforms your life through His Word.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Christians enjoy discussing “last things.” Theologians call the study of end time events, “eschatology.” It is important and should be examined. This is, after all, the blessed hope!

But, the best way to prepare for the last things is to get started on the first things—that is those matters that are of first importance. What if 2010 is the final year before Christ comes for His church? If you could know that for certain about the last things, what would you do first thing?

The first thing we should do is make sure our relationship with God is real. The clarion call of Scripture is, “Prepare to meet your God,” (Amos 4:12). If we miss heaven, we miss it all!

The next thing we should do is make sure all our relations know that God is real and He wants them to have a genuine relationship with Him through Christ. We want to take as many people to heaven with us as we can. Of course, only God can save them, but He uses us.

The final thing—and I mean the last thing of the first things—is having assurance of a real experience of God’s grace. I want to be growing in that grace and knowledge of Him. Peter said it this way:

2 May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.
3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge,
6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness,
7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
10 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away.
11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
12 Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught.
13 And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live.
14 For our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life,
15 so I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone.
(2 Peter 1:2-15 NLT)

Along with the Apostle, I make the first thing to remind you of these priorities because, like Peter, this could be my last thing I do! Jesus is coming—and I believe soon. Even if He doesn’t come back in my lifetime—I only have this lifetime and I desperately want it to count for Him!

So—now what are you going to do about it? It’s the beginning of a New Year and for some of us this will be our last year—perhaps, for all of us. That truth will transform us, if we take it to heart.