Tag Archives: marriage

Without the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ …

Without the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ God’s law becomes unproductive!

Without the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ God’s law becomes behavior modification!


When Forgiveness is Incomplete

I was reading Matthew as  part of a Synoptics Gospel class I am taking.  One of the things my instructor said was we often we read scripture through an individual lens.   However, Matthew is meant to be read with a community lens.  In other words when Jesus is saying you to the disciples he really means Ya’ all.  In other words the community of disciples.

If you look at the bigger structure of Matthew the sermon on the mount is not commands to the disciples but they are rather an example of what Gods community should look like. Matthew went to  to clarify and fulfill Jesus purpose and mission of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.  A continual contrast of the the earthly kingdoms vs the disciples heaven on Earth continues to be contrasted in Matthew.  Then later on Matthew discusses forgiveness.


21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone[a] who sins against me? Seven times?”

22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven![b]

The above reference was during Jesus’ discourse to his disciples about forgiving others that are a part of our Christian community.  I can’t help but think the words of “I forgive” and going through just a “process of forgiveness” falls far short of living in an intimate community of discipleship with other Christians and far short of what I am reading in the book of Matthew.  We often neglect the nuances and balance that the Synoptic Gospels offer us, neglecting the weightier matters of scripture for a more simplistic understanding and reading of the Gospels.

For me forgiveness is finally complete when I am back in intimate relationship in the community of believers and the ones I have wronged.  Anything less is not what I read as Jesus’ message in Matthew.


Real Intimacy

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is…
We are more sinful and weak than we ever dared to admit and…
We are more loved and accepted than we ever dared to hope.

In recent years I have been working hard at understanding my core and to not deviate far from it. In essence to try to remain in the sweet spot of Gods word. The sweet spot to me is the Gospel message. If we don’t keep that clearly in our sites we can eventually use scripture to damage relationships as we claim obedience or attempted obedience in some judgemental way.

I want to expand on some personal reasons why I believe we as Christians need to “Keep the main thing the main thing” and continually beat the gospel message about Christ into our heads. We need to re-remind each other of the Gospel message continuously. Martin Luther says, “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine….Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” (on Gal.2:14f). The gospel might be easy to understand but it is very difficult to apply in a persons life!!!!!

What I have seen [and participated in] is that as sinners we can twist anything and everything, including scripture, in idolotrous ways and suck life out of it for ourselves. People can spend years in Bible Study and still not be closer to Christ and understand the Gospel message any better than they did previously. We have a tendency to use scripture fore getting over bumps in life as opposed to drawing into more intimate relationships with God and the important people around us.

In the book of Genesis, before the fall of man, scripture says we were naked and unashamed. We had an intimate trust relationship with each other and God. After the fall of man, without the Gospel true intimacy to God, Christ, and each other is impossible. We can not achieve the intimate relationships we were designed by God to have without the Gospel message. Without the gospel, we will feel the need to portray some level of worthiness or holiness around each other. We cant discuss our true limitations, our shortcomings, Continue reading

Intimacy: Connecting with others that are acting in line with the Truth of the Gospel

If you read my vision statement one of my main themes is intimacy and taking risks in our relationships with others.  In his excellent book “Living the Truth,” Keith Ablow has this to say:

Love everyone, but trust those connected to truth. While everyone is worthy of your concern and empathy … only those who have recognized the source of their suffering, examined it, and grown from it are trustworthy. This is because putting down one’s shields, looking in the mirror, and facing the early complicated chapters of one’s life story is the only way to feel pain and grow beyond it. People who continue to deny their suffering, insisting all is well with them and always has been, can draw you into highly charged, unresolved dramas recycled from their past. And those unresolved dramas can contaminate any story you try to write with them. How do you recognize those who are trustworthy? Look at how much they rely on shield strategies to get through life. Do they drink excessively, ceaselessly pursue fame or riches, use drugs to get through life, gamble, take inordinate risks, change the topic constantly to avoid addressing anything emotional?

[I would add to this list] Do they rely on excessive religiosity, and spiritualize every situation?] Do they say everything’s ‘great’ for them now, that they have the ‘ideal marriage’ or ‘perfect children’ or Continue reading

Intimacy with Christ Your Spouse, and Others Via the Gospel of Christ

The Gospel is…
We are more sinful and weak than we ever dared to admit and…
We are more loved and accepted than we ever dared to hope.

The idea of being Gospel centric means seeing everything through the eyes of Jesus Christ and the purpose of his sacrifice on the Cross.

With that introduction here is something I wrote a while back that is so near and dear to me that I need to share it again.   The words reflect a lot of years of struggling with my own sin.

In recent years I have been working hard at understanding my core and to not deviate far from it. In essence to try to remain in the sweetspot of Gods word. The sweet spot to me is the Gospel message. Without keeping the Gospel clearly in our sites it becomes possible to eventually use scripture to hurt others as we claim obedience or attempted obedience in some Continue reading

The Theology of Rocky Balboa

Whether you believe in nothing or believe in God but we ALL engage in the theology of Rocky Balboa. Some of us dont know it and dont recognize it. Some of us know it but cant escape from it. Some of us after long struggles have learned to overcome it. Let me explain.

In the first and only good Rocky movie Adrian told Rocky ‘you can’t win’. Rockys response was that I just need to go the distance then I will know I am not a bum. There is always something that ‘drives’ everyone that we worship and if we have it we will know we are not a bum — whether we actually know it or not. We all have this thing that controls us and as Christians we call them idols.

We all live for something whether we know it or not. Even if a person says I live for nothing and does not let anything control them in essence they are living for their independence. Irreligious people that dont know God dont often realize that they are also also worshipping something — whether it be their independence, their political beliefs, their view of the world, They all have the one ore two things that if they have it they know they are not bum.

Likewise, most religious, God believing people are also worshiping something besides God and they dont even know it. Instead of finding a righteousness (Romans 3:21) in Christ they are finding a rightness in being religious people or a rightness on being moral, hard working, disciplined people.

Continue reading

Crumbs of truth

The following BLOG from Scott Gamel really highlighted something to me that will probably continue to be more and more of a problem in the future. It talks about online discernment ministires (ODM’s). Please read it:


Scott’s last paragraph said:

What you need to “discern” is what has so poisoned your soul that you feel led to “bite and devour” and to speak whatever crumb of truth you might stumble upon completely devoid of love.

I actually sent an e-mail to a guy that runs biblical discernment ministries a few years back. I really saw this guy as just not liking any Christian author at all. He was a self proclaimed Christian fundamentalist. Not a good response back to me,

These BLOGS are VERY common that tout this kind of attitude and theology. They all sound very much the Continue reading

The aroma of the cookies — in Jesus Christ

As I reflect on some of the things I wrote and also reflect on my time on the Pastoral Search Committee I have just realized something. Two different churches, two sets of people, two pastors that believe exactly the same thing can give off completetely different aromas.

As we were on the search committee we actually had a phrase we used that one Pastor could describe how the cookies were made and the other one can describe the aroma of the cookies. We were looking for a Pastor who could do both and was excellent at describing the aroma of the cookies.

Our pastor, now in his position for 3 months has started a Thursday service. Since i was interested in how it was going I stopped in. It was the second Thursday service and it already had 60 adults. Wow! The sermon Continue reading

How is scripture actually being used

I was eating lunch one day and sat beside a number of Church going men (maybe accountability buddies) that were sitting close enough to me to hear most of their conversation.

They had a good conversation. Nothing I would disagree with individually They had what I consider to be a typical conversation for these types of meetings and the conversation turned to politics and how bad the world is. I did not disagree with anything being said whatsoever but I do consider this type of conversation to be pretty typical where we start to critique the world at large.

I realize in the entirety of the conversation I overheard there was not one thing I would disagree with. I was, Continue reading

Jesus vs Religion

I have posted before on this subject and it highlights why I have been so big on deepeining our identity in Christ and keeping the Gospel message central to our thinkology. In the document below I highlighted finding our identity in Christ vs finding our identity in being religious:


Click on the play button below to watch Mark Driscolls sermon. This one is 6 minutes long.