Ministry in a Nutshell

PlantingPlanting and waiting.  That, I am learning, is the essence of biblical ministry.  It is perhaps the most important lesson I have been learning over the last few years, at least as it concerns my life as a pastor.

Of all the things that I long to see happen in, around, and as a result of my ministry, I have no power whatsoever to make happen.  I cannot save a single soul.  I cannot make a single Christian more like Christ.  I cannot cause a single saint to endure to the end of his life in faithfulness to Christ.

Beyond these things, I cannot heal a single marriage. … Continue reading

What’s in Your Crèche This Christmas?

lamb-in-crècheA crèche is a manger scene, a nativity, which many people display at Christmas. What’s in your crèche’s manger this Christmas? Does your nativity scene remind you and those who visit your home that God sent a Savior to redeem us from our sins? Jesus did enter this world as a baby—just like the infant depicted in most manger scenes. However, the crèche does not display our Savior’s astounding résumé. Before the Spirit of God conceived His humanity within Mary’s womb, Jesus qualified uniquely to be our Lord and our Redeemer. As the Son of God He had already acted as the Logos (the Word) and the Light of the world.… Continue reading

Royal Priests—Similarity, Not Identity

horned_altar_crownHow is the Church’s priesthood like that exercised by Melchizedek or by believing Israelites? Melchizedek’s functional role joined together kingship and priesthood—his was the first royal priesthood (Genesis 14:18). An echo of Melchizedek’s priesthood occurs when God appoints Israel as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). Of course, Jesus Christ’s own priesthood consists of the same royal priesthood (Zechariah 6:12–13; Hebrews 5:6, 10). As we shall see, the Christian believer’s priesthood also belongs to the same classification according to 1 Peter 2:1–12.

A Holy People

The apostle Peter quotes directly from the Old Testament to point to the similarities between the people of God in Israel and the people of God in the Church.… Continue reading

Have You Had Your Gospel Vaccine?

Fall is in the air: days are getting shorter, temperatures are dropping, and everyone is ready to break out the long pants and pumpkin-spice everything. For many, it’s a relief from a long, hot summer; for others, it’s the first hint of another long, cold winter.

But fall is also the start of something else (say it with me, now): flu season! And with the start of flu season comes the yearly reminder from all quarters that everyone who is able to do so should get a flu vaccine.

The basic idea behind a vaccine, of course, is simple, if brilliant: give your body an inactive or weakened dose of something that could cause disease, letting your body learn how to fight it without actually having to suffer its consequences (an oversimplification, but hopefully good enough).… Continue reading

The Consequences of an Easy Gospel

A common strategy in sales (or at least a stereotype of the sales world) is to present a product to someone while maximizing the benefits but minimizing the drawbacks. After all, who wants to highlight why a product you are buying is not necessarily exactly what you want?

salesman

Unfortunately, this mentality is not limited to the business world, as it is easy for the church to do the same in its gospel presentations.

The gospel is a message of unfathomable grace. But it is also a message with a high cost (Luke 9:23; Luke 14:26-27, 33). And when people hear about the cost, they often don’t find it so appealing any longer (Luke 18:18-27).… Continue reading