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God Is A Finisher

I have taken lessons in piano, guitar, trumpet, and karate. Does this make me a master of all of these abilities? No! Because I stopped each one after only a few months. I’m a master of starting things! God, however, is the Master of finishing.

Consider this. In Genesis 3, sin entered the picture of humanity and by the end of the chapter, God had issued a permanent promise of redemption through the “seed” of the woman (Jesus, the Messiah). Then for thousands of years, that promise was threatened repeatedly. Satan was on the heels of God’s people all the way to the cross and the empty tomb. But Jesus finished paying for our sins and rose again. Redemption was secured.

Also consider this. If the previous paragraph is true, then I feel a solid guarantee that everything God has promised for our future, but has yet to accomplished, will certainly come to pass. Why? Because God has proven that He is a Finisher. Against all odds and in spite of intense satanic oppression and attack, God’s will gets completed.

Here’s something else to consider. If God finished the work of redemption in Christ, and if God will certainly fulfill all of His Word concerning the future, then God will also certainly finish whatever He may begin in my own life. Paul, in Phililppians 1:6, was “confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will carry it out until the day of Jesus Christ.”

But I’ve messed up… I’ve made mistakes… I’ve halted the progress of spiritual growth in my life… Yes, but God has determined to finish you!

I used to watch my grandfather work in his shop. He built cabinets and tables and other furniture. He was good at putting wood together and making something pretty, but he was a master of the finish work. He would sand and stain. Then he would run his fingers over every inch to find any rough spots so that he could sand and stain some more before putting the final polish on top.

That’s God. He roughs us up and puts us through adversity to shape us. Then He puts some finish on us. He tests us and finds the rough areas and sands us down some more, then applies more finish work. And someday? The final polish will be applied (Romans 8:29-30 guarantees that this is already as good as done).

God is a Finisher. Don’t doubt what He has begun to do in you – just let Him have His way!

The Light of the Glory of God

This article is adapted from my sermon from Luke 2:8-20 from a series on the light of Christmas.

I think most of us can relate to having a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” For me, traveling to Russia on a mission trip was that kind of an opportunity for me. When those moments come along, I wonder how I wound up there, and why it was me.

I think that’s how the shepherds felt the night Jesus was born and the angels showed up by myriads to announce Jesus’ birth to them. Why them? Why there, in the fields? But that was God’s choice. And I really don’t think we fully understand the amazing nature of what happened that night. We’ve heard the story told so many times with the emphasis on the manger scene itself that we don’t realize that the very windows of heaven itself were thrown open with a massive display of the awe-inspiring glory of God.

These ordinary, every day, down-to-earth shepherds were allowed the privilege of beholding the holiest thing anyone has ever seen – the glory of God. When that happens, our lives are changed and our appetites are whet forever!

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Sometimes I Wish You Knew

I define myself with clear priorities. I am first and foremost a follower and disciple of Jesus Christ, a born again child of God. I’m also a husband to an awesome wife, and a Dad to a wonderful daughter. Then I’m a Pastor to a great church. Sometimes I’m also a web and graphic designer. I love all of these realms of life and appreciate the people I’ve come to know in each.

As a Pastor, and I’m sure other church leaders will identify with what I’m about to write, I can say that there is tremendous pressure that few people realize. I don’t talk about it much but felt the need to clear my heart this morning. I hope you’ll appreciate the transparency here.

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If We’re Praying, We’re Growing

Prayer is a classroom, and God is the Teacher. In prayer, we learn just how big He really is. I’ve recently been teaching through Jesus’ model prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 and my friend Chris Price posted a picture on Twitter (follow Chris) of some notes he had jotted down about the attributes of God in the model prayer. As I came to the close of my series, I kept reflecting on that thought, and especially on the final line of Chris’ notes, “prayer is an expression of powerlessness.”

Every line of the model prayer echoes this thought…

  • Our Father which art in heaven (where we can’t be in our flesh)…
  • hallowed be thy name (He is holy, and is to be set apart in us)…
  • thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven (God is sovereign)…
  • give us this day our daily bread (He is providential, the sustainer of all life and giver of all good gifts)…
  • and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors (He is merciful and gracious, offering forgiveness freely, and our forgiveness merely reflects His)…
  • lead us not into temptation (He is powerful to protect us)…
  • for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever (so much… He is King… He is omnipotent… His glory is everything… He is eternal)…

And perhaps my favorite part… “Amen!” That’s a word that simply means “let it be so.” so Jesus modeled for us a prayer that teaches us to be dependent, humble, powerless and helpless at the foot of His throne. He taught us a prayer that would elevate our view of God.

I’ve begun to think of spiritual growth, not as my getting larger, but as my getting smaller and God growing larger in my perspective. God is omnipresent, so His size literally never changes, but my view of Him should grow, and this growth takes place as I make myself smaller in prayer. Every line of the model prayer is an expression of dependence on God to reveal His will, provide for our needs, forgive our sins and empower us to forgive when it’s so difficult, protect us from evil, and be our glorified King forever.

If you’re not praying, you’re not growing. Are you growing?

The Certainty of Mysteries

I was deeply moved by today’s reading from J. Sidlow Baxter’s devotional, Awake My Heart. He speaks of the mysteries of life, what W. A. Criswell used to call “the imponderables of God.” Baxter mentioned birth, life, personality, human experience, Satan, eternity, etc. All of these are unexplainable. We can begin, but we can never conclude any definition of them.

Baxter goes on, however, to quote an unnamed old Puritan as saying, “Never let what you don’t know disturb your faith in what you do know.” Further, Baxter proclaims that “breaking into all this mystery comes a glorious, transfiguring fact which not all of these problems can discount: it is THE FACT OF CHRIST. He is a certified historical fact; a supremely significant fact; an experientially realized fact….”

We live in a highly skeptical age. To deny this is to prove that one has his proverbial head in the sand. We live in the age of the offensive atheist, exemplified by authors such as Richard Dawkins, who espouses a near hatred of conservative Christianity and writes it off as idiotic nonsense that should be put to an end. In the mix, Christians find themselves wavering and doubting.

So, what do we do with our big questions? I don’t know about you, but I believe God can handle our biggest questions. He has answers. Whether He will provide them or not is within the divine prerogative of God. But in the midst of all of the mysterious, imponderable concepts of spiritual, eternal things lie the rock solid, unbreakable truths of Christianity. In the words of Paul, And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16)