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An Awakened Hunger

Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73.25-26). These words penned by Asaph speak of a hunger for God. They reflect an intense appetite. Do you have a hunger for God like Asaph? Do you have a strong desire for the glory of God? As we begin...

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Members of One Another

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10.23-25 Lately, the thought of the church and how ...

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Missional Community

God is on a mission. He is on a mission to spread His glory throughout all the earth. He is spreading His glory through His creation, as Psalm 19.1 says, The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. He created the heavens, the earth and all that is in it to tell of His glory, but not only that. He created mankind to be ...

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Missional Community

God is on a mission. He is on a mission to spread His glory throughout all the earth. He is spreading His glory through His creation, as Psalm 19.1 says, The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. He created the heavens, the earth and all that is in it to tell of His glory, but not only that. He created mankind to be ...

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Get and Give Wisdom

Wisdom is supreme so acquire wisdom, and whatever you acquire, acquire understanding (Proverbs 4.7). This past Tuesday night I challenged our men to get wisdom and give wisdom. I believe this is the theme of Proverbs. I wanted to encourage you with the same. So, what is wisdom? We are not looking to get a higher IQ. We are talking about Divine Wisdom. It is how God view...

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Engaging the Membership Process

It is with great delight that I write to you. Over the last four to five months we have been praying along with our brothers and sisters at Trinity Valley Church about the potential of our two local bodies becoming one. On this Sunday, October 23, the potential of what could be is now becoming a reality. I echo what King David proclaims in Psalm 133 saying, How good and pl...

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Trinity Valley Church and Staff Announcements

Since June we have asked you to be in prayer about the potential joining of Trinity Valley Church with our body. That potential has become reality. This past Sunday night TVC voted to affirm the joining of their body with our body to become one local church. This Sunday TVC will be gathering together one last time to celebrate 21 years of ministry the Lord has blessed them...

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Fear God

Fear God. Ecclesiastes 5.7b This exhortation is found throughout the Scriptures. All people are called to fear God. We don't speak of this as often as generations before did. But, we are called to fear God. At our First Tuesday gathering this week I asked the men if they wanted the blessing of the Lord in the different spheres of their life? The Scriptures tell us that b...

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Not Forsaking Bible Study

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than go...

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Unity at The Ridge

This week we are going to take a break from our study of Matthew's gospel and launch into a new series on unity. Biblical unity is a precious thing to Jesus. So much so, that Jesus prayed to the Father asking Him to make the church one as He and the Father are one. Jesus' goal for such unity is so that the world may know that He is the Son of God. So, the church must seek ...

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Remember

This Sunday marks a day somber remembrance. September 11, 2001 was a day we will never forget. For most of us we remember where we were at. For some we were at home and others at work. Some were at school and even one in our congregation that I know of was actually at ground zero. As we remember this day, it no doubt makes us realize the depths of the depravity of mankind...

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The Amenity-Less Church

Do you like amenities? I do. I like going to a hotel and having a place to workout (not that I always use it), a pool for the kiddos and breakfast. I like the amenities in my neighborhood as well. But what about amenities as part of the church environment and experience? Amenities are great features that provide comfort and convenience with the goal of giving a delightful...

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Taking Advantage of the Summer with Our Children

The Summer allows for most parents to spend more time with their children. With the break from school and most likely later bed times the opportunity to have time with our children increases. With this in mind I want to encourage parents to take advantage of the increased time you have during the Summer with your children. Jesus definitely models for us throughout the New...

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Summer

Well it is Summer, even though it is really still Spring for a few more days. The kids are finally out and I am jazzed! There always seems to be a concern that I get around this time of year. It is the concern of the Summer blah setting in. The Summer blah can be when boredom sets in, along with laziness, complacency and inconsistency. This might seem passive or mild, but ...

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Servant to All

For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake. 2 Corinthians 4.5 You and I are called to make disciples in a culture that is perishing due to the blinding of their minds by the enemy. We are called to reach those that are unbelieving with the light of the gospel even though now they might not see it. There wil...

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Resurrection Hope

Brothers, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4.13). Where does the Christian's hope lie? Easter makes hope available to all. As we look at the resurrection of Jesus Christ we see that life on Earth is not the end. In fact, death is just the beginning. This life is a vapor,...

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Biblical Mom

Today the importance of motherhood is downplayed, minimized and belittled. So much so, that there seems to be a trend of wives and mothers leaving their husband and kids, either because it is harder than they thought, they don't feel fulfilled, or it is not as much fun as they thought it would be. This is not just happening with unbelievers, but with professing believers a...

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Jesus' Present Kingly Reign

Do you ever have those days where you feel like God is not present? You may feel that He is absent, whether due to circumstances or maybe a certain attitude you have one day. These times are real. Even though we may feel like this, for the Christian it is a reality that He is present. There are also those times when we feel that God is not in charge of things here on Earth...

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God's Terms of Peace

When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! Luke 19.42 The Jews in Jesus' day missed it when it came to God's terms of peace. They were looking for this material and external kingdom. They believed they would see it and know it when it was here. They were looking for the ...

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Holy Week

What a special week we are approaching, as we celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Holy week begins this Sunday, April 17 with Palm Sunday and culminates Easter Sunday, April 24. It is what this week remembers and celebrates that gives the Christian hope. I want to invite you to join us for this week. It is always a special time and we would love to share...

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Ekklesia

And He (the Father) put all things in subjection under His (Christ) feet, and gave Him (Christ) as head over all things to the church, which is His (Christ) body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1.22-23 According to the New Testament, the word church is the Greek word ekklesia, which means the called out ones, or the sent out ones. The church is Christ...

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Our Purpose: The Glory of God

Moses said, "I pray You, show me Your glory!" Exodus 33.18 This past Sunday we begin looking at Our Purpose and Focus as a church. Over the next few weeks we will look intently into our focus. Sunday as we looked intently into our purpose I pray that you were encouraged to do all that you do for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10.31). This is why you and I exist. We exis...

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Necessary

For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, "Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 1 Corinthians 12.14 Paul, what about the pinky? You will notice...

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Yes, Lord

I remember in my college days jumping at every opportunity to serve. As I was growing in the Lord serving became a joy of mine. The Lord taught me that my answer to whatever He wanted was always yes. In 1998, I was at a conference in Austin. For the first time I heard taught Isaiah 26.8, which says, Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your truth, we eagerly wait for You, for...

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The Cry of a Generation

Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your truth, we eagerly wait for You; for Your name, and renown are the desires of our hearts. Isaiah 26.8 This verse is part of a section in Scripture where Isaiah is looking forward to when Christ comes and establishes the millennial kingdom. He pictures himself with a remnant standing in the redeemed land singing a song of praise to God....

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Test the Spirits

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4.1 As we heard Sunday, we are to test leaders and teachers to make sure they are from God. In this world there are many false teachers and leaders. So, we must be aware and examine every spirit as the apostle John s...

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The Small Gate

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7.13-14 More and more it is evident that we live in what many call a post-Christian society. Pluralism is all around us. Though it...

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Treating People Biblically

In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7.12 How do you want people to treat you? The implication in this verse is that we would want to be treated biblically. That is the emphasis here on how one is to treat another and how they would want to be treated. Treating people biblically is a ...

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Being Diligent in Spiritual Growth

I was grateful for Coleman's sermon Sunday. The Scriptures encourage us to take an active role in our spiritual growth just as we were encouraged Sunday. In fact, 2 Peter 1.5 says, apply all diligence to your spiritual growth and practice of the faith. Not that we gain God's approval by such a work, but it is certainly fruitful qualities of one who has truly been called an...

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Self Sacrificing Love in 2011

In Sunday's sermon we were challenged by the words of Jesus to be distinct from the culture with a self sacrificing love. My prayer as we enter 2011 is that The Ridge would be marked by such a love. It is tough to take insults or to receive hurts from others. We want to repay them, seek revenge and retaliate. Jesus calls us to a different standard though. Retaliation is ...

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Today

We live in a culture where there is a great deal of attention placed on Christmas and Easter, not to mention other holidays. We must be careful with how we view such observances. The Apostle Paul speaks about our observance of certain days in Romans 14.6 saying, He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord. Whatever the celebration may be, I believe Paul's main point ...

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Trading A Charade for Something Real

God grants to us Kingdom practices or forms, so that we would seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. It is not something that comes natural to you and I. Remember we are born into this world as those who are not righteous and who do not seek God (Romans 3.10, 11b). In fact, our sinful flesh wages war against such a desire or pursuit of seeking first the Kingd...

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Marriage: Simply Try

Matthew 25.14-30. I ask that you read this section of Scripture. Jesus is using a parable here to speak of the kingdom of heaven and what it is like here on earth. Jesus says that those who are part of the kingdom of God will be given a mission from God. It implies that everyone who is part of God's kingdom has tasks here on earth to make God's name known by living for His...

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Giving

But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. Matthew 6.3-4 This Sunday we heard the call of Christ to identify with the poor and afflicted helping them in their distress. We are to give to those in need in secret. It is no...

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Be a Trader

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealthBut seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6.24-33 Don't waste your life. That is one of the messages I hear from Jesus in Matthew 6. Matthew 6 is our ...

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Committing to Church Membership

As shared from Sunday, we live in a day when many people struggle with commitment phobia. We are afraid to commit to one thing because we are afraid that we might miss out on something else. We also believe this one thing that I commit to might cost me more than something else might, so we don't commit. So, what you have is simply the wisdom of our day, which is KEEP YOUR...

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Advent Giving

What are you willing to trade in this season to give financially to God's work? Is it the daily runs to Starbucks? Is it changing your spending habits this Christmas season? As part of our focus on giving this season, the elders have put an Advent giving goal before us. The goal for this year is $70,000. Our monthly budget requirements are $40,000. Our desire is to reach t...

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Advent 2011

What if Christmas looked different this year? What if it wasn't about all the gifts, going to the mall or the rushing around from here to there? We want to invite you to rethink Christmas with us this year and to experience it for what it was meant to be. On Sunday, November 28 Advent begins. Advent is the anticipation-filled season of celebrating Jesus' birth and His com...

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Filled with Thanksgiving

Though this time next week I will be filled with turkey and all the other trimmings I am filled this morning with thanksgiving. Why?Psalm 118.21 says, I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me, and You have become my salvation. God has answered my deepest and greatest need. He saved me and I am so thankful. God by His Sovereign grace and will saved me. Not beca...

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Looking at Sunday Morning Practically

At The Ridge, Sunday mornings is when our main worship gatherings are (9 am and 11 am). Sunday mornings can sometimes be hard. It can be times of hustling around to get out of the house in time, as we struggle to get there on time. In the fast and furious movement of the morning we can get frustrated at those in our family. Then the ride to meet with the church to worship ...

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Thank God for October 31, 1517

Today is a great reason to celebrate. Martin Luther at the age of 33 nailed his 95 thesis to the Wittenberg Church door 493 years ago on this day. We thank God today for Martin Luther because he held up the belief and teaching that salvation is a gift of God's grace and received by faith. He believed that it was God's work from beginning to end. Luther changed the course ...

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The Power of Community and Relationships

Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections. Now in a like exchange I speak as to children open wide to us also. 2 Corinthians 6.11-13 Relationships are important. Paul, along with Timothy, has opened up wide his heart to the people in the church at Corinth. This...

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Vertical to Horizontal: Orphan Care

For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven...In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 5.20, 7.12. This past Sunday, I shared how God has been stirring my heart with the call to care for the orphans ...

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The Fiery Hell

But I say to you everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Matthew 5.22 Jesus in His sermon He taught in the hill country goes beyond the act of murder itself when ...

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Prayer

I have mentioned in writing the last couple of weeks, Jesus' parable in Matthew 13.24-30 (explained in 13.36-43), which speaks of the wheat and tares. The obvious point of this parable is that the wheat that sprouted and bore grain is the sons of the kingdom and the tares are the sons of the evil one. Parables though, I believe, have many layers to them. The tares are a we...

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Wheat and Tares

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have...

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Remember in Your Fasting and Prayers

Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. Hebrews 13.3 As you pray and fast on Wednesday I want to invite you to remember those who are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus. From North Korea, China, Somalia, Pakistan, India to Iran, Christians are daily being imprisoned, beaten and...

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Enemies of God: Loved and Punished

I was posed this great question this week: Since God commands us to forgive our enemies, why is he just when He punishes His enemies? My short answer is that it is God's business to punish, not ours (Romans 12.19-21). Here is my short answer explained: God commands us to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, do good to those who hate you, bless those who cu...

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Coming Into the Sanctuary of God

Until I came into the sanctuary of God. Psalm 73.17 As we saw Sunday, Asaph's thoughts were tangled up as he was tempted by the prosperity of the wicked. This temptation seems to make him question God's goodness and the authenticity of his own faith. God's people, the pure in heart, will face temptation just like Asaph does. The question is, What do we do when the temptat...

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How to Fast Safely

How to fast safely. As you begin your fast, you may hear from concerned loved ones and friends who urge you to protect your health. And they are right. You should protect your health. But be assured that if done properly, fasting will not only prove to be a spiritual blessing, but physical blessing as well. By all means, consult your doctor before you begin your fast. Bu...

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Fasting on Wednesdays

More than any other discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside of us with food and other things.-Richard Foster This past week while studying our Scripture text for the message, [Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for ri...

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Naming God

This is not a new trend, but in our culture and country God's name gets thrown around often. You might think shame on others for using God's name in vain, which I agree, but I am not referring to that. You might be on the other side, thinking, that is great, we want God talked about, which I would also agree with. But the issue I am speaking to is the loose use of God's na...

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Children and Student Ministry

For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations. -Psalm 100.5 God is faithful to all generations. He is concerned about the young and the old. We too must be a people of multigenerational faithfulness. Therefore, our ministry to our students and children are very important. First, we are about to start off a new year in c...

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Sin

Dear Parents, Sunday's message was about our condition of being sinners, how we got this way, what the effects of it are and how we can be changed from being a sinner to a saint. As we have taken some time talking about the topic of sin, I want to challenge and encourage you to continue it. Our children need to understand this and it cannot be done in a 15 or 20 minute s...

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For Theirs is The Kingdom of Heaven

Jesus came saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4.17). This is great news, but for who? Who does the kingdom of heaven belong to? In Jesus' sermon in the hill country He answers that when He says, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5.3). The kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit. What does this mean? Jesus b...

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The Kingdom of Heaven

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Matthew 4.17 I have personally really enjoyed our journey through Matthew. The focus on the kingdom of heaven is challenging me to ask, what must change in my life and around me? It makes me land where Isaiah did during His encounter with the Lord saying, I am ruined - I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of un...

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Everything Must Change

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is hand. Matthew 4.17 God is out to affect everything. He is out to change the entire world. This is what the kingdom of heaven being at hand demands and calls for. He is out to change you, inside and out. He is out to change your family, school, your place of employment, your community and this nation. Do you believe that?How will he do ...

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Kicking and Screaming

Now Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother in the boat with Zebedee their father, m...

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Sabbath Part Two

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. Genesis 2.1-3 To continue from last week, let's g...

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Sabbath Part One

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. Genesis 2.1-3 I remember a conversation recently ...

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Do Something

The longer you look at Jesus the more you will want to serve Him in this world (N.T. Wright). I could not agree more. This is why the writer of Hebrews says, let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus (12.1-2). We must look intently at the real Jesus. This is one of the reasons we are taking a journey through Matthew's Gospel. We wan...

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Pastoral Rest and Recharge

A few months ago the elders prayed about giving me four weeks away from pastoral duties. They have given me the month of July to take off from my regular duties. The elders believe that I should be teaching 44 weeks each year and that I should periodically take personal time to spend with my family. In addition to that I should also have some time to study and prepare for ...

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God with Us

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which translated means, "God with us." Matthew 1.23 The conception, birth and coming of Jesus is the essence of Christianity. Both mysterious and miraculous is the conception of Christ by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary. We call this the incarnation, which literally s...

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Part of the Church: Friction and Fallout

I am not a big fan of the negative. I do not like to harp on it, nor discuss it. I am a half glass full kind of guy. So, to voluntarily write on friction and fallout as part of the church is not necessarily a thrilling topic for me, but a necessary one. In fact, Paul writes to the church at Corinth saying, For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear...

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Glorifying God in My Work

Paul says the overarching priority of a Christian's life is that in Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (Colossians 3.17). The phrase, do all in the name, refers to both representing another or being empowered to do so. So, in whatever we do in word or deed it is Jesus we are representing and by...

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Hear, See and Think

Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it(Deuteronomy 6.1-9) God has commanded Moses to teach the Israelites the Ten Commandments, and other statutes and judgments, so that they might do them in the land where they are going ov...

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Legalism and Obedience

I wanted to take some time this week and follow up on Sunday's message. Legalism is a great evil that must be put to death. Let me take some time deconstructing itwhile holding up obedience.How do we define legalism? It is the treating of biblical standards of conduct as regulations to be kept by our own power in order to earn God's favor.It is seeking to achieve forgivene...

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A Priority: Gathering Together

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10.23-25 I wrote concerning this great section on t...

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Vineyard

What a joy it was to gather with Nahnum this past Sunday. The passage we centered around has continued to challenge me this week (Matthew 21.28-32). Remember Jesus tells a story about two sons who were asked by their father to go work in the vineyard. The first son answered his father saying, "I will not"; but afterward he regretted it and went (21.29). The second son answ...

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Parents: Be Taken Captive By Christ

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. Colossians 2.8 I have continued to reflect on this verse from the message this past Sunday. Paul is giving a warning to the young church in Colossae in regards to the man-ma...

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Spiritual and Physical Care

But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it (1 Corinthians 12.24b-26). The body of Christ, the Church is...

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The Glory of God and Joy

I have been joining a couple of men in our church in reading the book of John together. It has been a joy to read this gospel again. I have seen over the last week the inseparableness of the glory of God and joy, especially in chapters 12-17. First, the glory of God. In John 12.28 Jesus says, Father, glorify Your name. This was Jesus' desire and end in all things. It is t...

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However

King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the songs of Israel, "You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods." Solomon held fast to these...

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Humble and Contrite in Spirit

"But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word." Isaiah 66.2b Sunday we begin our month long focus on looking at a life that is completely surrendered to the Lord. This is the one that the Lord looks to, gazes upon, and has as the apple of His eye. According to Isaiah 66 the apple of His eye is those who are humble, ...

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Thankful for Five Years at The Ridge

This week marked five years since my family and I came to The Ridge. As the Apostle Paul says, I am overflowing with gratitude (Colossians 2.7). I am thankful to Jesus. He is the head of the church and He has given me the great joy of being one of the overseers of The Ridge. I truly cannot wait to see what the next five years bring. As I reflect, I am thankful for the foll...

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Rejoicing in the Lord (2009 and 2010)

As I reflect on 2009 and look ahead to 2010 I rejoice in the Lord. There are many reasons to rejoice. As I write, my oldest son, Noah is sleeping on the couch next to me. I am reminded of his salvation experience and baptism this year. He was not the only one though. I am most thankful for the lives changed by God through Jesus Christ in 2009. The Apostle Paul says, For t...

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Our Advent Aim Part One

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward ca...

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The Spirit of Advent Part Two

I love this season of Advent. Advent is the celebration of the love of God for sinners. It is the love of God that brought Jesus Christ into the world. God forbid that this would be forgotten or lightly considered this season. Instead may the birth of our Redeemer, which redeemed us from wrath, death and hell, be the center of our thoughts, conversations and worship this A...

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The Spirit of Advent Part One

This past Sunday marked the beginning of our celebration of Advent. Advent is the celebration of the love of God for sinners. It is the love of God that brought Jesus Christ into the world. God forbid that this would be forgotten or lightly considered this season. Instead may the birth of our Redeemer, which redeemed us from wrath, death and hell, be the center of our thou...

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Advent 2009

What if Christmas looked different this year? What if it wasn't about all the gifts, going to the mall or the rushing around from here to there? We want to invite you to rethink Christmas with us this year and to experience it for what it was meant to be. On Sunday, November 29 Advent begins. For me and my family, this is a season that we have grown to love and enjoy. The...

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Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! I pray your heart is filled with the joy of the Lord this Thanksgiving. I love thinking about the joy of the Lord. In fact, the bible is filled with verses talking about the joy of the Lord. Here are a few: For the Jews there was light and gladness and joy and honor. In each and every province and in each and every city, wherever the king's commandment...

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Family Worship Service

Have you ever imagined what a worship gathering back in the Old Testament or even in the first century church might have looked like? I think about that at times, especially when I read books like Nehemiah and Acts. I wonder things like, Where were the children? Did the people stand the whole time? It seems in the day of Nehemiah they did stand, and not just for forty minu...

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Keeping You in the Loop

It is hard to believe that we are almost halfway through November. This can be a very busy time of the year, so I wanted to take a few minutes of your time and update on some things at The Ridge. Israel FamilyFirst, the Israel family was commissioned this past Tuesday night in Shreveport to serve with the International Mission Board. As many of you know they will be servi...

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Tasting the Sweetness: The Life of David Brainerd

How can such a man as David Brainerd capture the hearts of so many devoted men and women of God? A man who never lived passed thirty years of age, with no formal ministry training and a debilitating sickness, David Brainerd has somehow managed to leave a lasting impact 250 years after his death. Missionaries, theologians, pastors and lay people alike look to the life of Da...

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Abortion and Health Care Reform

I want you to join me in making some phone calls. I do believe on this issue they help. What is the issue? The Legislative Arm of Americans United for Life bring it to light in the following: Speaker Pelosi has now unveiled the new pro-abortion House bill, and Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards wrote to her supporters rejoicing that "every version o...

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Cross Conduct

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. Phil...

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Some Musings and Updates

This week I have a few things swimming in my mind that I would like to share with you to both challenge and make you aware. Community vs. IndividualismA phrase that consistently comes to my mind as a prayer and desire for The Ridge is a place where no one stands alone. I would love for that to be said about us as a body. As I have been studying David's life for our men's ...

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More Always Means Less

A couple of weeks ago I was reading a blog of a pastor friend of mine, Andy McQuitty who is battling cancer. His friend Bill Lawrence had written something that he quoted in the blog that has stuck with me. Here is what Bill wrote to Pastor Andy: There's always more out there somewhere. More opportunity, more recognition, more power, more control, more success, more money...

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Reflections on Philippians 1

This Sunday we will close out the first chapter of Philippians. As we wrap things up I would like to reflect on this gospel centered beginning by Paul. Paul has challenged us to truly put the gospel first. Remember this is no little gospel. It is not something we should domesticate, box in or push to the periphery. It should be at the center of all things. It is to be sup...

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Affection and Perspective

Affection and Perspective This morning in my readings I read through part of John Piper's small book, The Dangerous Duty of Delight. I am posed with the question to myself as a result, Do I feel the depth and intensity of affections that are appropriate for God and His cause? So often the Christian life is all about decisions and not necessarily our affections. Peter says...

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God or Money

Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12.33-34 What do you cherish? This is of most importance to Jesus. For what one cherishes shows what is treasured in their heart. The plac...

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Our Response to Regeneration

Our Response to Regeneration Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, you are protected by the power of God t...

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What is lacking?

What is lacking? For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach. Titus 1.5-6a Over the last few weeks we have been asking the question, what is lacking? Have you been asking that personally? I pray that you have been applying the question to your own li...

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Purity is Lacking

Purity is Lacking What is lacking? What needs to be straightened out? Needed in the churches throughout the cities in Crete was purity. What is purity? Purity is freedom from guilt, sin and evil. It is being free from anything that contaminates or pollutes. The church in Crete was lacking in the area of purity, from its members to even those given the platform to teach. T...

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Setting in Order What Remains

If you were to sit back and look at your life, what would need to be set in order? What is not right? What is lacking? What is in need? Those who are in Christ are new. Their mission in life is to be about making things right and to straighten things out according to the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. It is the mission given to Titus for the churches in Cret...

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Sacred Life: Living in the Overflow

It was good to be back Sunday. Thank you once again for the break. We are grateful for your understanding that a pastor needs rest and refreshment. I hope you enjoy our time in Titus as much as I am overjoyed about teaching. The Lord continues to impress on my heart that this is a very timely book for us as a church. As I am in the custom of often doing, I will reiterate w...

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To Come to Christ is not Man's Willing or Running

If you are in Christ today be encouraged! You are chosen of God. Paul tells his brother Titus his purpose for writing him and he says, for the faith of those chosen of God (Titus 1.1).Paul also says to the church in Rome, So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy (Romans 9.16). Praise God for His sovereign grace and mercy...

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To Come to Christ is not Man's Willing or Running

If you are in Christ today be encouraged! You are chosen of God. Paul tells his brother Titus his purpose for writing him and he says, for the faith of those chosen of God (Titus 1.1).Paul also says to the church in Rome, So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy (Romans 9.16). Praise God for His sovereign grace and mercy...

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Clay Pots

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4.7 We are the jars of clay. Compared to the treasure that is in us, we are clay. We are not gold. The gospel is gold. We are not silver. The news about Christ is silver. We are not bronze. The power of Christ is bronze. This mean...

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Sacred Marriage: Marriage Bed Part Two

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband (1 Corinthians 7.3).An important part of marriage as we have seen is the marriage bed. Paul tells us that each spouse has a responsibility to fulfill when it comes to sex in the marriage relationship. In what spirit is such a joyous responsibility to be carried out?The wife does not h...

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Sacred Marriage: Marriage Bed Part One

We learned in the Spring that: 1. Marriage is God's design and doing for His great display to reveal the new covenant relationship of Jesus and the church. 2. A truly blessed marriage must have the fear of God present, trusting in Jesus and realizing our great need for Him in all things. 3. Marriage is not about our comfort and happiness, but about our holiness. Marriag...

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Elders

The writer of Hebrews says, Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith (Hebrews 13.7). When considering men for the role of elder this verse is one that I hold dear to. I believe our elders are men that we as a church can look to as examples of godliness and faith. I especially believe that...

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Sacred Marriage: Holiness Part Two

An important part of marriage is laying aside falsehood and speaking truth. Paul longed for this for the church in Ephesus as we see in Ephesians 4.25-32. Since the Ephesians knew the truth of God and had their heart and life changed, now Paul called them to live a holy life. It is true that holy thinking produces holy living. Proverbs 23.7 says, For as a man thinks within...

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Summer

It is real easy to get busy withmany things to fill the time this Summer. It is also easy to get in lulls. As a result priorities and disciplines can shift and change often for the worse. Bible Study, community, corporate worship and giving tend to drop for other things. I pray that your disciplines would increase instead of falling into the Summer trap. First, you need a...

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The Fringes of His Ways

Sometimes you just want to share and testify. Today I simply want to do that. Before I do though I wanted to address something I said from Sunday. I listened to my sermon from this past Sunday and realized again something I said in the 11 am worship gathering. When trying to encourage those who have had trouble having children I actually made an insensitive comment. I wan...

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Sacred Marriage: Holiness Part One

God is the doer and designer of marriage. He created marriage, the one flesh relationship, to display His glory and to reveal the new covenant relationship of Jesus and the church. An important element to marriage is the fear of God. For the marriage relationship to be right there must be a reverential awe for God. In Isaiah 6.1-5 it says, In the year of King Uzziah's de...

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Sacred Marriage: Fear of God Described

Solomon says, Fear God (Ecclesiastes 5.7). The fear of God is better described than defined, so let's see it described in Proverbs 31, through the lens of biblical womanhood. An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels (Proverbs 31.10). The wife described in Proverbs 31 is one of moral worth or one who has godly character. This is the same expressio...

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Sacred Marriage: fear of God defined

For by Him all things were created both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rules or authorities all things have been created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1.16 Jesus is the creator of marriage. Marriage has a great purpose beyond us. It is to display Jesus, to glorify Him. The chief end of marriage is to glory God by...

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Sacred Marriage: Sex

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities all things have been created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1.16 Scripture has much to say about everything, even sex. In the Scripture the term all things is mentioned often. When talking about all things you must includ...

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Sacred Marriage: Display

The Apostle Paul says in Colossians 1.16, For by Him all things were created both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rules or authorities all things have been created through Him and for Him. Not only has marriage been created by Jesus, but the one flesh relationship is designed to make much of Jesus Christ. David says to ...

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Sacred Marriage: God's Design and Doing

On April 22 of this year Annette and I celebrated nine years of marriage. We do not have it all figured out, nor do we have all the answers to when it comes to marriage. But we do know today that marriage is treated casually and aimlessly by our culture. Yet God has created marriage with a sacred purpose. It is important that we have the right foundation to our marriage. W...

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Gather to Spur and Encourage

And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10.24-25 By faith, when one has had the blood of Christ applied to them, and entered into a relationship with God through Christ, who is their h...

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Who is the naked man running through the garden?

If there is a guy in a sheet with nothing underneath you are probably thinking toga party, right? If there is a guy running around naked you are probably thinking this has got to be some kind of fraternity stunt, right? That is what comes to my mind. But, in Scripture it was something totally different. In the gospel of Mark we read that a young man was following Him,...

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Impact Sunday

Yesterday, I got the privilege to attend a meeting of local business men and women who are longing to see revival in this city. We were meeting to discuss the prayer gathering coming up on May 5 called, God of the City (www.godofthecity.com). What I loved so much about meeting these people was to see that there are people in all types of spheres living out the gospel of ...

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Make Disciples

What is sacred? God's people have a sacred calling. Our sacred calling is to share the gospel. Why should we evangelize? I pray that your joy and desire to share the gospel would be increased as we see what should motivate us in this great task. But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped H...

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That Which is of Most Importance

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain (1 Corinthians 15.1-2). The Apostle Paul was a fervent and faithful evangelist and he wanted so desperately for people to be saved. Here he draws...

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Awake and Take the Mountain

I have enjoyed walking through some of Isaiah's writings the last few weeks. This past Sunday in Isaiah 52.1-7 we heard some intense words that were historical and futuristic (prophetic) in nature, as well as very important for this present day that we live in. In Isaiah 52 we find the subject matter concerning the deliverance of the Jews out of Babylon which will not happ...

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The Surest and Safest Way of Thriving

We are called to be holy as Jesus is holy which does not mean that we are called to just merely avoid evil and be good moral people. Sure, we are to avoid sin, flee immorality and not to pursue evil, but we are not called to simply be about what we don't do, but what we do do. We have seen this over the last two weeks in Isaiah 58. We have a sacred calling as God's people....

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Don't Give Up On God

I received a call this week from a lady who attends our Christmas Eve service every year with her family. She lives outside of the Metroplex area. Each year I have had the opportunity to pray with her concerning certain things. When she called this week she was so excited to let me know that God had answered one of the things that she has been praying for over the last few...

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The poor, the afflicted and the gospel

What is sacred? What is sacred to you? We have been asking this since the beginning of this year. God has called His people to be holy as He is holy - to be set apart, consecrated for God and His kingdom purposes (Leviticus 11.44; 1 Peter 1.15-16). So, followers of Christ see things different than the world we live in. We think different when it comes to the way we see our...

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Sacred Obsession

But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6.14 So, what have you been obsessed with this week? Has the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ dominated your thoughts, feelings, time and life? I pray that God would give you a great love, passion, and desire...

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Greater Works

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to the Father. John 14.12 The Works of Christ What are the works of Christ? That is a loaded question. There are many we could mention. Paul says, by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and the earth (Colossians 1.1...

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Sacred Communion

Sacred What is sacred to you? When it comes to your relationships, your time, your priorities, and the entirety of your life, what is sacred? I don't know about you, but I love fresh starts and the opportunity to begin again. That is what the New Year brings to us. It is a time to look back and reflect on our lives. It is a time to examine and see what needs to change. Da...

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Read Great Christian Authors

READ GREAT CHRISTIAN AUTHORS Last week I spoke about abiding. This is an urgent need that we must give all to. To abide in Christ and Him in us (John 15.1-11). But we need a plan. To be in the Word, to prayer, to journal and I would also suggest reading great Christian authors. John Piper says, If you read 15 minutes a day for one year (just 15 minutes, say just befor...

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Overwhelmed with Gratitude

Overwhelmed with Gratitude As I reflect back on 2008 I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Paul's words to the church at Philippi, says it well for me when it comes to you. He says, I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now (Philippians 1....

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Don't Lose the Anticipation

Don't Lose the Anticipation Not sure if any melancholy sets in for you as you pick up the wrapping paper and take the decorations down, but I get a touch of it. With so much anticipation looking forward to the celebration of Christmas day when it is gone there is at times a letdown. I even caught myself listening to Christmas music today for a short while. But the antic...

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Dance (serve and give)

The other night my wife and I spun around the kitchen to a catchy tune. I love to dance, but I am definitely no Fred Astaire. In fact, I am probably more like Elaine on Seinfeld. I definitely am the one stepping out of line and causing the beauty of it to be marred. In Paul's ministry to the church at Thessalonica he had to address a group who was stepping out of line....

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Advent 2008

What if Christmas looked different this year? I know Thanksgiving is still weeks away, but I want to direct your attention to this season that is fastly approaching. On the Sunday before Halloween I was in Hallmark getting some cards with Noah and Grace and the store was all decked out for Christmas. If they can promote the Christmas season this early I think it is more th...

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The Shack

I personally enjoyed reading The Shack. I am not a big fan of fiction, but I truly liked ready this writing. Though I would encourage someone to read it I would also tell the reader to proceed with caution. The main reason for such a warning would be due to how God is revealed in the book. God is Triune and the book paints a beautiful picture of that, but we must be carefu...

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Weaknesses

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakn...

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Daddy

Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" Galatians 4.6 I love hearing the word, Daddy. I will never forget when my first two children said that to me. I am looking forward to our youngest saying it soon. What is amazing is the God of Heaven wants us to call Him that. Think about this. The creator, sustainer ...

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Overwhelmingly Awesome God

Overwhelmingly Awesome God If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, the LORD your God, then the LORD will bring extraordinary plagues on you and your descendants, even severe and lasting plagues, and miserable and chronic sicknesses (Deuteronomy 28.58-59). The context of this is...

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Representing Jesus in the ministry of reconciliation

But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. Galatians 2.11-12 The second chapter of Galatians has many layers to it. As we continue...

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Disciple: Be One, Make One

But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles. Galatians 1.15-16a Last night I caught a glimpse of the homerun derby. What a show that was! Many of you probably know of Josh Hamilton and his story. Josh was a promising baseball star on the r...

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Disciple: Be One, Make One

But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles. Galatians 1.15-16a Last night I caught a glimpse of the homerun derby. What a show that was! Many of you probably know of Josh Hamilton and his story. Josh was a promising baseball star on the r...

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A Man I Deeply Respect

Remembering a Man I Deeply RespectJune 11, 2008One month ago from today my father-in-law (Papal) went to glory. On May 11 this world lost a great man. What was our lost was Heaven's gain. It has been new territory for me personally. I have never lost someone that close to me. When I was an infant and toddler my grandparents passed away, but I was too young to understand. H...

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A Man I Deeply Respect

Remembering a Man I Deeply RespectJune 11, 2008One month ago from today my father-in-law (Papal) went to glory. On May 11 this world lost a great man. What was our lost was Heaven's gain. It has been new territory for me personally. I have never lost someone that close to me. When I was an infant and toddler my grandparents passed away, but I was too young to understand. H...

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Unity

Lately, I have been reading passages in the Scripture that deals with words such as, likeminded, one, one mind, together and common. In fact, Acts 2.44-47 is one of those passages. Look at what it says: And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyon...

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Unity

Lately, I have been reading passages in the Scripture that deals with words such as, likeminded, one, one mind, together and common. In fact, Acts 2.44-47 is one of those passages. Look at what it says: And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyon...

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Mission

In the last few weeks, we have talked about the things that are essential to our faith. They are beliefs that we hold tight in one hand, while our eyes are focused on living a life that glorifies God, by loving Jesus, by loving people and seeing lives transformed to live for Jesus. So we have our focus, we have our foundation (Jesus) and now what do we do? We have one more...

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Ouch

Ouch! It was actually much more than that coming from my son on this Monday night, as he touched a good friend of ours hot grill. Noah had been warned earlier in the evening to not touch the grill. Well his curiosity got the best of him and he did it anyway. He was in someheavy tears due to the pain. His hand gotcared for and doctored up. By the next morning he was in good...

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Mission

In the last few weeks, we have talked about the things that are essential to our faith. They are beliefs that we hold tight in one hand, while our eyes are focused on living a life that glorifies God, by loving Jesus, by loving people and seeing lives transformed to live for Jesus. So we have our focus, we have our foundation (Jesus) and now what do we do? We have one more...

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Ouch

Ouch! It was actually much more than that coming from my son on this Monday night, as he touched a good friend of ours hot grill. Noah had been warned earlier in the evening to not touch the grill. Well his curiosity got the best of him and he did it anyway. He was in someheavy tears due to the pain. His hand gotcared for and doctored up. By the next morning he was in good...

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Focus

But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, o Israel, do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by my name; you are Mine - whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made. Isaiah 43.1, 7b Any organization or business must have a focus. In the secular world, businesses have statements to keep ...

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Contending

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. Jude 3 The gospel and truth is under continual attack by Satan who sends out false teachers, false shepherds, false apostles and false prophets to wage wa...

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Focus

But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, o Israel, do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by my name; you are Mine - whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made. Isaiah 43.1, 7b Any organization or business must have a focus. In the secular world, businesses have statements to keep ...

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Contending

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. Jude 3 The gospel and truth is under continual attack by Satan who sends out false teachers, false shepherds, false apostles and false prophets to wage wa...

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