Tag Archives: christian growth

Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Need for Focus)

Why do we need FOCUS? There are many reasons, of course, but our text here in 2 Peter 1 makes it quite clear that FOCUS in the Christian life is critical! If I am not focused on adding to my faith certain virtues, there are specific conclusions that can be drawn.

In this series of blog posts I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.

In our passage this morning, the Apostle Peter does not mince his words when he talks about spiritual growth in the believer’s life. Peter lists seven virtues which we may choose to add or not add to our faith. The Christian life is the furthest thing from merely coasting down the highway. It is a struggle against on-coming traffic, with enticing exits everywhere, requiring us to peddle with all of our might so that we move on in our faith. The believer is to “make every effort” (v. 1) to add these seven virtues — goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love — to his foundational faith in Christ.

And these seven virtues are not added in one fell swoop. They are to be possessed “in increasing measure.” No one will ever be told by the Lord in this life, “Hey, stop working on that self-control thing. You’re good!” No one will ever hear a voice from heaven saying, “Child! Slow down! You’ve got enough godliness!” These virtues are to grow in us. If they don’t, there are certain dire, inevitable consequences.

But let’s use the positive tone which Peter uses. Possessing these qualities will keep us “from being ineffective and unproductive” in knowing the Lord Jesus. However, we must not miss the catastrophic conclusions for the one who doesn’t “make every effort” to add these virtues. And the two conclusions have to do with FOCUS and FORGETTING.

The first conclusion has to do with eyesight. The one who does not have these virtues “is nearsighted and blind.” Which is it? Is he nearsighted or blind? Can he be both? Perhaps the idea is that he only sees what’s right in front of him. And he is blind to everything else! This Christian’s FOCUS is ruined. He is unable to see the future person he should be. He only sees what’s nearby. And his vision is gone. He is “blind.” Perhaps the meaning is he is blind to what Jesus wants to do in his life. He just can’t see it.

The second conclusion has to do with memory. This one who does not have these virtues — and is not working on them — has forgotten that they have been forgiven! The saving work of Jesus Christ is no longer a memory or a reality for which they praise God. It’s as if the hard drive of their brain has been wiped clean.

Today’s Challenge: Are your spiritual eyes open to these seven virtues and the absolute necessity of your working on them? Don’t be nearsighted or blind. Roll up your sleeves, open your eyes, and remember what Christ has done for you.

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Posted by on August 16, 2021 in focus


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Faith’s Additives (A Study of 2 Peter 1:5-9)

Clearly Scripture teaches that we do not add our good works to what Christ has done for salvation! But after salvation, there are good works for us to do (Eph. 2:10). And one of those primary good works  . . . is to work on ourselves!

The Christian life is not a passive “Let Go and Let God” situation. Nor is it merely our striving to be the best we can be. It is a cooperative work between the believer and the Holy Spirit to grow us up in Christ.

Here’s my outline of this great passage. What thoughts would you add?

I. The Basis for Adding to Your Faith (vv. 1-4)

Looking over those verses reminds us of God’s precious promises He has given us in Christ!

II. The Attitude in Adding to Your Faith (v. 5)

We are to “make every effort”! Note that that expression is used several times in this first chapter of II Peter.  Our character is not “fixed” at birth, and God can bring about great changes as we follow hard after Him in our sanctification!

III. The Specifics of Adding to Your Faith (vv. 5-7)

There is much work to be done on this list of seven virtues. Some questions that occur to me: (1) How is each virtue to be defined? (2) Are each of these virtues added specifically to the previous one — or to one’s faith as a whole? (3) Is the order of these virtues important?

IV. The Choice of Adding to Your Faith (vv. 8-9)

Notice that we added the words “THE HAVES” and “THE HAVE NOTS” to the text.

A. The Haves — 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Possessing these qualities — in increasing measure — will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive!

B. The Have Nots — 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Wow! What awful conclusions! If I don’t have — and grow in — these qualities, God declares me nearsighted and blind! And He accuses me of forgetting that I have been forgiven!

Conclusion: This passage is certainly worth memorizing, don’t you think? At least more in-depth study. But most of all — application to our daily lives! Your comments welcome!

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Posted by on September 21, 2020 in 2 Peter 1


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The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Hungry?)

Hungry? I know the cartoon is about monsters under the bed. But it got me to thinking — am I HUNGRY? I mean really hungry for what matters? I have no problem — even at age 70 — for satisfying my hunger pains with a handful of M&M’s or a (small) bowl of ice cream. But what about real spiritual hunger? Am I satisfied with just knowing the Lord enough? Do I pursue a deeper connection with Him and the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit? What does your hunger meter look like? On empty? or moving toward the side of longing to grow in the things of God? [I don’t think we’ll ever have to worry about the last sections of being “STUFFED,” “BLOATED,” or “NAUSEOUS”!]

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Posted by on July 27, 2020 in Calvin & Hobbes


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Self-Purification (2 Corinthians 7:1)

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

Let us continue our study of several verses in chapter seven:

Self-Purification (2 Corinthians 7:1)

I. The Motivation for Self-Purification

“since we have these promises . . .” — What promises? Logically, the promises of the presence of God from the previous chapter: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people” (6:16). Note also 6:18- “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

II. The Invitation for Self-Purification

“let us purify ourselves, dear friends”

III. The Explanation of Self-Purification

A. Negatively: “from everything that contaminates body and spirit”

B. Positively: “perfecting holiness out of reverence for God”

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Posted by on June 23, 2020 in 2 Corinthians 7


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Colossal Truths from the Letter to the Colossians! Spiritual Maturation! (1:28-29)

Of the many, many blessings in my life is my friend Frank. We’ve been friends for decades and even though he lives in the pagan land of New Jersey, he seeks to be a shining light in a dark place. [I live in the pagan land of South Carolina, but at least we talk slower, say nice things to strangers, and drink sweet tea]. Frank and I have been doing a kind of online Bible study with each other — and we’ve recently been going through the incredible letter to the Colossians.

There are a number of prominent themes in this four-chapter epistle. The next theme we want to notice is Paul’s commitment to spiritual maturation. We read in Chapter one:

28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. (Ch. 1)

Notice Paul’s goal in life: to present everyone fully mature in Christ! Please notice the key to spiritual maturation: the Person of the Lord Jesus! “He is the one we proclaim.” Notice Paul’s commitment to encouraging spiritual maturation in everyone: “To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” We are not to sit idly by and watch each other stagnate in spiritual infancy!

What efforts, my friend, are you taking to admonish and teach others to grow in God’s grace? Are you striving to present everyone over whom you have some influence fully mature in Christ? Do you see such a mission as a battle — a strenuous contention to allow Christ’s power to work through you?

A challenge: what younger believer comes to your mind who could greatly benefit from a kind of informal mentoring relationship with you?


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Posted by on May 25, 2019 in spiritual maturation


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Habits of Holiness: #1- Working in God’s Word

Imagine that I went to my doctor yesterday and he said that I only had six months to live. [I didn’t, so don’t panic!]. But imagine that I received that kind of news. What would I do for the next six months? How would my life change? What priorities would take center stage in my life? How would such news impact my relationship with others — my unsaved friends, my fellow Christians, my wife, my children and grandchildren?

I’ve been going through the book of Ephesians through email with a good friend in New Jersey. In Ephesians 5 we read, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” No one needs to prove that these are evil days, do they?

If I want to live these last six months as wise, not as unwise, then I need to make the most of every opportunity! So I will be using the next few posts as the chance for me to think out loud. What spiritual disciplines ought I to practice as I get ready for the next life?

The first holy habit that occurs to me is investing myself in God’s Word! What am I doing with the Bible on my desk? For me the question is what am I doing with the Bible I can access in a nano-second on my laptop ((

Here’s where having a daily blog really helps me stay in the Word! I’ve committed myself to writing a post everyday, so the discipline of spending time in the Word is going pretty well. I would encourage everyone to start their own blog (it’s free at — and you don’t have to worry if anybody else reads it! It’s for you. And the Lord, of course.

I enjoy studying a book of the Bible for several weeks or writing a series of preliminary sermon outlines (such as my study of Titus from the perspective of the spiritually healthy family). I know I should do more unit-reading of the Scriptures (this refers to reading through an entire book of the Bible at one sitting. Quite useful for 65 out of 66 books — not recommended for the book of Psalms!).

Mind if I give you an assignment? Unit-read a book of the Bible and write down which book you read in the comments section below. Deal?


Posted by on April 9, 2019 in spiritual disciplines


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Time for a Great Picture: STUCK?

  Wouldn’t you love to have been animal control and have gotten this call?

I wonder how they got the little fellow out.

But we get stuck like that sometimes, don’t we?  We make choices and our choices seem to capture us and hold us hostage.

As you make your choices today, might I suggest that you begin with something like the following prayer?

“Lord Jesus, You’ve given me great power to make hundreds of choices today.  Please help me to make the ones that please You.   I want freedom, Lord, but not from You or Your will for me this day.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

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Posted by on April 1, 2018 in stuck


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Getting Ready for the New Year! 2018!

It’s hard to believe that another year is here already! I want to become a better follower of Jesus in this New Year.  How about you?

Someone has said of New Year’s Resolutions: “One resolve is like another — in one year and out the other!”  I believe in New Year’s Resolutions IF they are seen as promises which we seek to develop into habits.  We are creatures of habit, so we are told.  And I want to work on ten specific habits this year to go deeper in my life with Jesus and with others.

Someone named Dr. Rob Gilbert said of habits; “First we form habits, then they form us. Conquer your bad habits or they will conquer you.” The noted spiritual leader Thomas à Kempis said: “Blessed is the man who can set aside all distraction . . . Act with courage, for habit is broken by habit.”

Here are the ten habits I want to work on in this New Year:  Getting into God’s Word, Getting Serious about Prayer, Developing an Attitude of Thankfulness, Practicing Solitude, Sharing Jesus with Others, Growing in My Friendship Skills, Being Quick to Forgive, Cultivating a Spirit of Submission, Being Willing to Apologize, and Evaluating My Progress.  WHEW!  That’s a lot to work on.  But He is a Savior who is worthy of all my effort.

How about you?  What are you going to work on this year?



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Posted by on December 31, 2017 in New Year's Resolutions


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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #10- SINNERS) (con’t)

This is my last message/post on the topic of being STUCK!  These messages were/will be preached at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta (website:  How do we Jesus-followers sometimes get STUCK on the issue of SINNERS?

The reality is we are simply not like the Lord Jesus who was a friend of sinners.  Let’s admit it. We’d rather spend our time with fellow-believers than reach out to the lost.

Our text for this topic is Matthew 11 where we read:

16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

Both Jesus and John the Baptist were mocked by their contemporary culture.  John the Baptist was thought to be demonized because of his austere lifestyle. Jesus was charged with being a glutton and a drunkard because of His indulgence in food and drink.  Both austerity and enjoyment were areas of judgment for Jesus’ culture.  Jesus was neither a glutton nor a drunkard, but His social interaction with “sinners” opened Him up to such accusations.

I want to be like Jesus.  I want to be a friend of sinners.  If that is true, what steps must I take to get more like Jesus, to get unSTUCK in this area?  Please write out one step you will take in this area in the comment section below.  And thank you for sticking with me in this series!



Posted by on October 11, 2017 in christian growth


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STUCK! Ten Areas That Will Bury You as a Believer and How to Dig Your Way Out! (Area #10- SINNERS!)

If you have stayed with me through this series of posts, THANK YOU!   We’ve been thinking about areas in which the Jesus-follower gets STUCK!  Most of these messages were (or will be) delivered at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Augusta (website:

The last area we want to consider is SINNERS!  We get STUCK on the issue of SINNERS!  What are we to do with “them”?  Are we to hang around them?  Avoid them?  Become like them?

This topic of our relationship to SINNERS has become a passion for me.  I’m a SINNER.  How about you?  Someone reached out to me with the gospel.  How dare I spend all my time with fellow-believers, eating only Christian cookies, listening only to Christian music, and going only to Christian meetings?  How dare I?

Our text for this topic is Matthew 11 where we read:

16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
    and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
    and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

There is so much in this passage that we are going to take several posts to ponder it.  Please notice that Jesus is rendering a judgment on His generation.  He compares them to children singing mocking songs in the marketplace about Himself and John the Baptist.  “You’re like a bunch of kids pouting because we aren’t behaving the way you want us too!”, Jesus seems to be saying.  These “children” are inviting other like-minded kids to join them in their mockery and derision. What are they so hyped about?

The answer is that they didn’t care for the way either John the Baptist or Jesus lived among them.  And their only response is ridicule and mockery.  John the Baptist and Jesus didn’t dance to their tunes or mourn with their dirges.  And that ticked them off!  (to be continued) 


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Posted by on October 9, 2017 in christian growth


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