Tag Archives: belief

Jonah — Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 1)


I am beginning a new series of messages at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta, Georgia, where I have been serving as interim pastor for the last 10 months.  There will be four sermons, but I want to work my way slowly through this “minor prophet’s” book.

Although there has never been a more reluctant missionary than Jonah, the book gives us much more than simply his running away from God or just a story of his being swallowed by a sea creature.  His story is really verbal orthodoxy being contradicted by behavioral heterodoxy.  He seemed to believe the right things.  But his life did not reflect his professed faith.  Which is a condition, I suspect, which characterizes most (if not all) of us.  Let’s begin looking at chapter one of Jonah and make some observations:

What do we know about the person Jonah?  We learn in 2 Kings 14:

23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years. 24 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. 25 He was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, in accordance with the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher. 

It seems probable that Jonah was a disciple of Elisha and succeeded him as prophet. He lived during the reign of Jeroboam II and was a statesman in the northern kingdom of Israel.

We read that “the word of the Lord came to Jonah . . .”  God commissions him for a task.  If you are a Jesus-follower, you have been commissioned for a task.  What would you say is your TASK for today?  (to be continued)

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Posted by on August 1, 2017 in Jonah


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UNLIKE JESUS! One Area Where Jesus-Followers Excel (Part 7)

We have established the fact that Jesus was a friend of sinners.  We saw that truth in Luke 15 where “the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’” (Lk. 15:2).  Other examples could be given that show the Lord spending time with lost people.  He declared that He did not come to “call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Lk. 5:32).

We need waste no time proving that many, if not most, Christians are NOT friends of sinners.  Why not?  What do we fear?  How do we engage ourselves if we are not becoming friends of sinners?  What does it mean to be a friend of sinners?  What are the risks and dangers of such a “life-style”?

The Myth of Godliness

Our dog Scrabble one day stopped eating and drinking.  I mean, completely!  For days — and

Scrabble when he was a puppy.

then weeks!  I took Scrabble to a local pet store and the vet said he thought Scrabble had pancreatitis.  Scrabble still wouldn’t eat or drink.  We had to syringe water down his throat.

In desperation we took our dog to a friend who is a vet and it turns out Scrabble had swallowed three rubber nozzles from some gardening equipment.  We don’t know why.  But they had blocked his lower intestine and he was going to die.  Our vet friend did surgery, removed the three items, and gave us back out dog.  Scrabble is doing fine now, if you’re wondering.

Many of us have swallowed a lie.  That lie, as Steve Brown says, “smells like smoke and comes from the pit!”  The lie is simply this:  We believe that the fewer non-Christian friends we have, the godlier we are.  That is a lie.  Godliness does not come to those who isolate themselves from a lost world.

A simple study of Jesus’ prayer in John 17 ought to shock us out of our stay-away-from-the-world mentality: (to be continued)






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Posted by on July 17, 2017 in discipleship


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Insight from a Blind Man (A Study of John 9) Part 24

He’s being shunned, put under God’s judgment, discarded by the highest religious authorities on earth.  In a real sense, the story could end there — with the man born blind’s excommunication from the synagogue.

The Pharisees had made their ruling — he was steeped in sin at birth, was unapologetically lecturing these men of God, and deserved the harshest punishment short of stoning!  But at least he had his sight!

I wonder what was going through his mind as he is alone, kicked out of the synagogue, thrown out with words of judgment and rejection.  I wonder if his new eyes could only look in one direction — down.

And then Jesus came.  I wonder who told Jesus about the man’s excommunication.  And I wonder if they also might have become a follower of Jesus after the event.

At any rate, we read those precious words, “and when he found him.”  Jesus is looking for people.  He is seeking the least, the last, and the lost.  Here He looks for and finds the outcast, the heretic who called Jesus a prophet and the One whose prayer God heard.  He finds him.  Jesus took the time to seek this man out and to engage him in an eternity-changing conversation.

If I had been Jesus, I might have said things like, “I’m really sorry for all the trouble my healing you has caused.  I should have known that doing that on the Sabbath would have gotten you — and me — in trouble!  How’s the vision, by the way?”

That’s not what Jesus says.  In fact, He simply asks the man a question:  “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  John’s gospel, the “gospel of belief” as one commentator labels it, emphasizes the more important issue.  What others deem critical and vital Jesus ignores.  He goes directly to the most vital question: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (to be continued)


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Posted by on April 23, 2017 in belief


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Time for a Great Commercial: Skeptics Anonymous

Interesting commercial.  Why were these people skeptical?  What changed their minds?  How does this commercial appeal to everyone’s desire to “believe in something”?

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Posted by on November 30, 2016 in skepticism


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Time for a Great Quote: The Uniqueness of Jesus

“Jesus Christ is to me the outstanding personality screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-5-02-34-amof all time, all history, both as Son of God and as Son of Man. Everything he ever said or did has value for us today and that is something you can say of no other man, dead or alive. There is no easy middle ground to stroll upon. You either accept Jesus or reject him.” — Sholem Asch (1880-1957)

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Posted by on October 26, 2016 in jesus


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The Joy of Unit-Reading #32 (the Gospel of John)

What an amazing book — the Gospel of John! Screenshot 2016-02-14 07.06.24 Here are a few notes I took:

There is so much here.  It is readily apparent that John’s purpose in writing this book is BELIEF IN JESUS!  Consider taking a Bible you don’t mind marking up, my friend, and highlight every reference to BELIEF or BELIEVE in the Gospel of John.  It is astounding!

Another similar theme that would be fascinating to follow in this book would be WHO IS THIS JESUS?  He makes a variety of claims which lead people to either violently reject Him or gratefully welcome Him.

I get to preach at Southbrook Church in Charlotte on Palm Sunday and will probably use the question WHO IS THIS JESUS? as I trace some of His claims in John’s Gospel before looking at His triumphal entry.  Please pray for me as I prepare that message. (Prayers can work retroactively, don’t you think?)

What is one takeaway from John’s Gospel?  Wow, a hard question!  For me, I need to ask myself, “Do I really believe in all that Jesus claimed for Himself?”  If so, then everything in my life ought to be His!


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Posted by on March 30, 2016 in Uncategorized, unit-reading


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DocDEVOS: Ten-Minute Devotionals on the Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith #1

Screenshot 2015-11-24 14.56.26

Friends:  These are devotionals from a book I had published way back in 2002.  DocDEVOS is out of print (although you can pick up a copy of it for a song on  I plan on reprinting these short articles on this blog.  My dream is to produce a year-long DocDEVOS that covers all ten areas of Christian faith.  And have publishers chase me down, throwing gobs of money at me (just kidding).

Section One: First Things First
“Everybody Lives by Faith!”

The term “faith” may refer to one’s confidence in God or, as we’ll see today, to the content of truth God has given by His grace.

Faith does not deny facts.  It does not turn away from reality.  But faith understands that beyond the realities of this world there is a greater Reality.” (John H. Stevens)

Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.  (Miracle on 34th Street)

“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” (Jude 3)

The Knowledge Nugget:
The term “faith” may be used to refer to one’s trust in God and His Word (Heb. 11:1).  We encourage people to “have faith” or talk about someone “acting in faith.” Our confidence in life is not to be in ourselves or the things of this world, but in our Creator and Redeemer and in His communication to us through His Word, the Bible.
The term “faith” may also be used to refer to that specific content of truth which He has given to us (the Christian “faith”).  In our verse for today, Jude, the half brother of Jesus, encourages his readers to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3).  In our study of the faith, that is, of the doctrines of biblical Christianity, we are to affirm what God has told us in the Bible, then seek to present — and defend — those truths before the world.

Real Life Says . . .
But “real life” suggests the no one finally has the truth, certainly not in eternal matters.  Each person must create his or her own spiritual reality, says our world, and no person has the right to claim that only his (or her) faith is ultimately true.  Others suggest that having any kind of faith is for the weak.  The strong of this world don’t need any religious orientation to live successful lives — or so they think.
Screenshot 2015-11-24 14.59.05A newspaper once had a column entitled “The Answer Man.”  Readers could send in any question they wanted answered.  One question that was sent in read, “How does an elevator work?”  “The Answer Man” responded, “An elevator is essentially a small room dangling over a very deep shaft, help up by thin cables that are maintained by building employees who have tremendous trouble just keeping all the toilets working.”
This shows that everyone, in some sense, lives by what we might call faith.  No one has the FBI do a background check on the young man who serves them a burger and fries at a fast-food restaurant.  We ask total strangers for directions (although me struggle with the concept!) and trust them not to lead us over a cliff.  And we never do a safety inspection on an elevator before we use it — we just step in.
Christian faith, however, is not gullibility, wishful thinking, mass hypnosis or auto-suggestion.  Faith, as presented in the Bible, is only as good as the object in which it is placed.
In Jude’s battle plan for believers, his challenge to us to “contend for the faith” does not refer to our confidence in God, but to the specific doctrines which should guide followers of Christ.  This content of truth, this “faith” that we are to fight for, is described in a unique way.  Jude calls it the “once-for-all-entrusted-to-the-saints” faith, which means that God will never edit His truth, abridge the Word of God or change its content.
But before we can defend it, we must know it.  And that’s what these devotionals are all about.

But Lord . . .
Lord, I don’t know all that I should believe.  Expand my understanding of, and my obedience to, the truths which You have revealed for my good and Your glory.  Help me to live today looking for ways to humbly stand for Your truth.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

To Ponder . . .
“People are driven from the Church not so much by stern truth the makes them uneasy as by weak nothings that make them contemptuous.” (George Buttrick)

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Posted by on December 9, 2015 in FAITH


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