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Why It’s Impossible to ‘Make Peace with God’

Have you made your peace with God? It's a popular phrase. It's included in movies, uttered on death beds, and talked about in philosophical conversations. But it's impossible. You can't make peace with God. Our sin has incurred a debt we cannot pay. We have offended the Creator and sovereign King of the universe. He gave us paradise and we ruined it. He gave us His law and we smashed it. He asked for our allegiance and we selfishly decided to worship everything except Him. …

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Who Is Jesus? The Head of the Church, Pre-eminent In All Things

My favorite term referring to my role as a Pastor is the word undershepherd. I've been assigned the task of leading and feeding a flock, a local body of believers. And while I seek to lead with vision, with integrity, and with faith, I readily recognize that I am not the head of Grace Hills Church. That's Jesus' job. So I shepherd the flock, but I do so under the direction of King Jesus, the Chief Shepherd. Paul reminded the Colossian believers that "Christ is also head of …

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Who Is Jesus? He’s the Visible Image of the Invisible God

One repetitive theme of Jesus' teaching to His closest disciples regarded His oneness with the Father. He once said to them, "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father." Then Phillip brilliantly asked, "Jesus, can you show us the Father?" Uh... "If... you've seen ME... you've seen the Father..." (That last part was my interpretation of what Jesus might have been thinking - you can read it in John 14.) We still struggle with this concept today in religious circles. Major …

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Living In God’s Power Versus the Alternative

There are two possible sources of power that we can live in: God's power or our own power. There is no real comparison between the two, but there is a key difference worth pointing out. My power will always be limited while God's power is unlimited. In my own power, I can be happy in good circumstances, but in God's power I can find joy in all circumstances. In my own power I can resist temptation once but in God's power I can flee from temptation entirely. In my own power …

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The Gospel Transforms the Real Lives of Real People

In Western culture, we tend to be compartmentalists, which explains why we take our religion and put it in a box all week and take it out only when we engage in some kind of ritual such as attending church weekly, or maybe annually. We live on the mistaken assumption that the gospel is all about an event that happened a couple thousand years ago to a man named Jesus who is somewhat irrelevant to our modern technological age. The gospel revealed in the Bible, however, is a …

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The Gospel Changes Everything

The word "gospel" has lost a bit of its meaning in our modern culture. We say that things are "the gospel truth" that really aren't the gospel truth. We use the word to describe styles of music. And Christians sometimes talk about taking a stand for the gospel in reference to various political and social justice issues. But the word has a rather rich and very specific meaning. The "gospel" is literally good news. Good news about what? Or rather, about whom? The gospel is …

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True Love Pursues Truth and Justice

"It's not always loving to agree with someone." - Rick Warren It was love that compelled Jesus to tell the woman taken in adultery that her sins were forgiven. It was also love that moved Him to challenge her to go and sin no more. Love is always right, but it isn't always nice, at least not according to our cultural standards. Sometimes love compels us to confront, to correct, and to challenge others in ways that are uncomfortable. This is because true love "does not …

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True Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

True love - God's kind of love - is both possible and impossible at the same time. It's possible to love people the way God does when we're living under His truth and grace and in His power. We know this because He commands us to love and defines it for us in explicit terms, and He never commands us to do that which He will not also enable us to do. Then again, there are aspects of love that seem so far beyond reach. In particular, real love includes the ability to truly, …

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God, Help Us to Grow Deeper Roots!

I'm overwhelmed with anticipation about what God is going to do in the life of Grace Hills Church in the next nine weeks. This coming Sunday, we're starting a new series of messages called ROOTS: It's Time to Grow Deeper. It's based on the New Testament book of Colossians, and as I waded into the study of this ancient text, I was pretty moved by the similarities between the church at Colosse and our own church family. Paul writes the letter, but he didn't plant or pastor …

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True Love Is Selfless

"Me first!!" Who hasn't heard a toddler say that? And every year on Black Friday, millions of adults prove that this is not merely a toddler problem. From birth, we fight to be first. Selflessness is a learned behavior. And selflessness is at the root of what real love is all about - God's kind of love. "Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way." So wrote Paul in his definition of what true love is in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. When …

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