Posts by Pastor Mark Brussel

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How To Exasperate Your Child

If there is one Bible verse that Christian parents know by heart it is Colossians 3:20, "Children obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord".This is God's instruction on the authority-structure in the home and a key component of the parent's job description. But do we know what comes next? "Fathers do not provoke your children" (Col. 3:21). God issues pare...

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A Prayer for Pardon

Do you ever feel that your prayer of confession is hollow? As if the phrases: "I'm sorry please forgive me help me not to do this again" fall flat? Your words sounds to you like quoting a well-rehearsed rhyme or song and your heart stays cold. It doesn't seem like you've done business with God. You know that your acceptance by God is not dependent on a certain set of word...

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The Pain of Forgiveness

She wanted to know if I was serious. Before I could answer her question, the young woman shared her story with me. She had been sexually abused from the age of twelve by her adopted brother. This occurred over a period of six years. Her parents knew, but shockingly looked the other way. The nightmare ended when she confided in a friend. Eventually the perpetrator was confr...

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Jehovah Jireh: The Lord Will Provide

I remember that weekend clearly. We were expecting our first child and it was time to pick a name. Not one name but two actually since we didn't know if mama was expecting a baby boy or girl. Armed with half a dozen of name books my wife and I went away for two days. We had some good laughs and lots of serious conversation before agreeing on two sets of names. Our sweet b...

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Keep It Simple

The John's Phone claims to be the world's most basic cell phone. It has no camera, internet access or ability to send or receive text messages but it can make and receive calls anywhere in the world. Standby time is more than three weeks. The phone's single ringtone has three volume settings: loud, normal and silent. A nifty address book is built into the back of the devic...

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I Will Pray For You

"I will pray for you". Who hasn't said these words to a struggling fellow Christian? Knowing that your name and need is brought before God's throne is medicine for the soul. When someone prays for you, it's like he places his shoulder under the weight that you are carrying (Gal. 6:2). The Bible contains many examples of this kind of intercessory prayer. Epaphras prayed th...

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Thirty Times Thank You

God invites our prayer requests (Phil. 4:6). He loves to be asked and enjoys being the Giver. But do we thank him too, or do we pray much more than we praise? The biblical call is to "continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving" (Col. 4:2). When the ingredient of thanksgiving is added to our pleading, the entire flavor of our prayer changes.We d...

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Praying Like A Wrestler

Saying that the Bible is a book about prayer is not an overstatement. Itis more than that, but certainly not less. From the earliest beginning (Gen. 4:26) until the very end (Rev. 19:6-8), God's people call on, commune with, confess to and celebrate their God through their prayers. These prayers are as varied as the stars in the night sky. Some feel as if you're listening...

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Praying In A Harvest

I challenged you and myself on Sunday morning to resolve to pray 15 minutes every day this week for a harvest of lost souls. Jesus said: "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few, THEREFORE PRAY earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest" (Mat. 9:37,38). But perhaps you're a little intimidated by the thought of praying 15 minutes ...

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Seven Things About Elders In The Church

Most believers recognize the fact that leadership in the local church is not a luxury but indispensable. But there is difference of opinion on who those leaders should be. The biblical answer is rather straightforward: the elders are called to direct and oversee the affairs of the church. But what is precisely their task? And what should their leadership look like? Here a...

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Seven Things About Deacons In The Church

The function and role of the deacon can seem very confusing to the average churchgoer. In some churches the pastor is assisted by a board of deacons. They support the pastor but feel little to no spiritual responsibility toward the members of the church. The pastor is the sole spiritual leader, end of discussion. In other churches deacons function as pseudo-elders, providi...

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Save The Children

On January 22, 1973, the US Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade and legalized abortion. Since that day, more than 60 million babies have been killed in the womb under the legal protection of the federal government. Imagine the entire population of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida gone, completely wiped out. T...

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Your Best Resolution

Jesus said: "Man must not live on bread alone, but on every word, that comes from the mouth of God" (Mat. 4:4). If we don't eat food, our bodies become weak and sickly. It works the same way in the spiritual realm. But digesting the Bible doesn't only make us strong, we also need it to fight temptation (Ps. 119:105) and to be wise (Ps. 19:7-11). God hasn't told us when or ...

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Nothing Is Impossible With God

Nothing would ever be the same. Gabriel's announcement would turn Mary's existence upside down, for the rest of her life."You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus" (Lk. 1:31). The sudden appearance of the angel left her perplexed. But his message even more. Mary would conceive a child, but as a virgin. She would give birth to a son, but He wo...

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Simplify Christmas, Magnify Christ

Christmas is a time of great excitement and good cheer. But it also presents Christians with a sizable challenge. How do we keep the birth of Jesus front and center when we live a world that has turned Christmas into a commercial and sentimental circus? How can we enjoy this time of year but not join the merry-go-round the world offers us? It is no small challenge, at lea...

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Seven Things About Deaconesses In The Church

Some churches have deaconesses and some have not. And the way deaconesses fulfill their role can be quite different from church to church. I know of a church where deaconesses are virtually co-leading the church with the elders. I have been in churches where they are treated as glorified janitors. Why do believers have a different take on this issue? What does the Bible sa...

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Is There Still Hope For Me?

She was in shock. The slippery slope of sin had brought her to a place where she thought she would never be. She knew her heart was capable of evil, but now the wickedness of her soul stared at her point-blank, dark and deep. It felt like the fingers of sin had grabbed her by the throat, squeezing out every breath of faith and future. Who hasn't been at the end of this ro...

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Why We Don't Witness

Research shows that most Christians believe that God calls them to have Gospel conversations with unbelievers. But there is a pretty large gap between theory and practice. Lifestyle evangelism, showing Jesus by the way we live and the choices we make, is one thing. The verbal articulation of the Gospel to someone else is quite another. What is behind our hesitancy? And wha...

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A Daily Dose of the Gospel

We never outgrow the need for the Gospel. Jesus' death and resurrection is not the ABC of the Christian life but the A-Z. God strengthens us through the Gospel until the day we die. Our calling and identity are rooted in Him.Therefore, we must daily preach the Gospel to ourselves. But what does this look like? How does the Gospel make a difference on let's say, Monday mor...

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Care for Your Conscience

Our conscience is a wonderful gift from God. Every person comes equipped with one (Rom. 2:15). Conscience is "God's watchman and spokesman in the soul" (J.I. Packer), generally reliable but not perfect. It can misfire, excusing our actions when they should be accused and accuse us when nothing is the matter. When shaped and ruled by God it will help us live worthy of the G...

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Parents, Talk With Your Children

We all know that the best type of communication is not a monologue, but in the world of parenting it often is. We tell our children to clean up their toys, eat with their mouth closed and stop teasing their sibling. It is not wrong to talk to our children. They need to hear our instruction, correction (and encouragement!). The problem is that we talk so little with our chi...

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Faithful Church

On July 15th and 16th of this year, our church celebrated its 250th anniversary. We commemorated that on July 16, 1767, thirteen men and women signed a covenant establishing, what was then called, the Baptist Church of Montague. Our historical documents speak of great joys and incredible breakthroughs during those 250 years. For example, from 1830-1843 the church enjoyed ...

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Black, White and Gray

Many decisions we make as Christians involve areas or activities that are not explicitly addressed in the Bible. They are often referred to as the "gray" areas. How do we discern right from wrong when the Bible doesn't take a stand or never even addresses the issue? Let's not muddy the waters here. In many cases there should be no question to begin with. Lots of things a...

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Facing a Task Unfinished

God has called us to make disciples of all nations (Mat. 28:18-20). This may seem like a huge and daunting task. What can we do? What should we do? There are multiple options, but prayer should be at the top of the list. It is something all of us can do. In fact, Jesus commanded us to pray: "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the...

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Who Killed Jesus?

"Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief" (Is. 53:10) "This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men" (Acts 2:23) "For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, alon...

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If There Is No Resurrection

The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the foundation of our faith. It's not the icing on the doctrinal cake, it is the cake. The apostle Paul gives us a list of the detrimental consequences if there would be no resurrection. If there is no resurrection from the dead then: Christ has not been raised Our preaching is useless Our faith is empty We ar...

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What the Bible Says About Children

1. Children are loved by God (Joh. 3:16; Mark 10:13,14) 2. Children are unique, image bearers of God (Gen. 1:26) 3. Children are a blessing from the Lord (Ps. 127:3-5) 4. Children are vulnerable (Mat. 18:6) 5. Children are an example of faith (Mark 10:15) 6. Children are able to know and honor God (Mat. 21:15-17) 7. Children are sinners, just like adults (Ps. 51:7; M...

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I Am Angry

Almost all of us are angry at times, right? Anger is one of the emotions with which God has created us. We mirror God in this way because we find in Scripture that God is a God of wrath. So anger in itself is not wrong (Eph. 4:26). It is striking however, that we rarely evaluate our anger. God's anger is always pure, holy and righteous; He is God! Our anger often isn't. W...

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A Sufferer Needs a Friend

If you are familiar with the story of Job you would probably agree with me that his friends were awful counselors. Their advice was not helpful for Job, on the contrary. With their false assessment that his suffering was the result of his sin they only made matters worse. On top of it all, they misrepresented God. Job's friends are not skilled physicians of the soul. Howe...

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Bleeding Bible

"Now in those days the counsel that Ahithophel gave was as if one consulted the word of God" (2 Sam. 16:23). Wouldn't it be amazing to have someone in your world who would be this full of God's truth? No wonder that this man was esteemed highly both by King David and his son Absalom. This verse makes me think about a comment the great preacher Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)...

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The Greener Grass

The Greener Grass Conspiracy by Stephen Altrogge is a helpful little book. It hits a nerve with almost everyone who reads it, including myself. The subtitle says it all: Finding Contentment on Your side of the Fence. The author helps us to do battle with discontentment by steering us back to the truths of the Gospel. You can find the first chapter online. The habit of dis...

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The Way of the Transgressor

King Saul is a prime example in Scripture of someone who started well, but finished poorly. His first actions as ruler of the nation were spot on. But after his flagrant disobedience of the Lord's command (1 Sam. 13:13) he soon spiraled down and landed in a deep pit of insanity and evil. In 1 Samuel 28 Saul is about to do battle against the Philistines. It will prove to b...

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Take Care How You listen

How often do we leave the church service unaffected? How about unchallenged? How frequently do we go home invigorated, encouraged or, dare I say it, changed? Going to church can easily equal going through the motions. Why? One reason is easily overlooked: we come unprepared. "Hey, be happy we're here", a father and mother of three small children may protest. I understand....

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Fighting the Fight of Faith for Purity

Sexual sin stains us like no other sin (1 Cor. 6:18). It kills our relationship with God and robs usof the ability to love our spouse, children and our Christian brothers and sisters well. May these Bible truths serve as ammunition in fighting the fight for purity in the power of the Holy Spirit. Let's believe them, ponder them, memorize them, take hold of them and apply ...

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Foolishness 101

Foolishness abounds in our world. Even common sense has gone out the window. Watch the evening news or scroll down your Facebook News Feed and inevitably you will ask yourself: am I crazy or what? Scripture has a lot to say about foolishness. But the biblical definition of a fool goes beyond our modern day usage. It adds a dimension that is foundational to every deed of f...

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Living by Faith

George Mller lived two centuries ago, but his life and ministry have deeply affected me. Mller founded orphanages and schools in Bristol, England. His primary purpose was not the physical and spiritual wellbeing of the children, though this was certainly included. His main goal was to prove to both believers and unbelievers that God is able to meet the needs of His childre...

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Leading by Loving

It is very controversial, but the Bible states that the husband is the head of his wife. He bears the brunt of the responsibility to provide for and protect the family. He sets the tone for the spiritual climate in th home. Wives are called to submit to their husbands while husbands are called to step out in faith and courageously accept their God given role as leaders. T...

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Suffering: Why Does God Allow It?

Why does an all-powerful and loving God permit evil? This question has challenged the hearts and minds of Christians throughout the centuries. When adversity strikes every one of us will come face to face with this inevitable mystery. God is not offended when our "why" questions flow candidly from our broken hearts. In fact, He welcomes them. The writers of the Psalms fre...

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Examine Yourself

God calls us to examine ourselves (1 Cor. 11:28). He wants us to subject ourselves to the piercing light of His Word. With King David we should pray: "See if there is any grievous way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way" (Ps. 139:24). The natural man runs away from God's holy gaze. But because we're safe in the love of Christ, we should welcome His scrutiny. It is a...

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Slaying Slander

"I just can't believe what is going on with so and so" "Someone told me that" Not many things are as destructive and divisive as gossip. Gossip is the silent killer that has slayed countless people in churches and families. It has destroyed friendships and damaged reputations. It is the nature of gossip to fly under the radar. Gossip is rarely exposed and confronted. But...

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I Can't Forgive Myself

After drinking too much Ken fell asleep behind the wheel and caused a serious car accident. It left a teenage girl scarred for life. Weeks later he had an opportunity to meet both the victim and her parents. To his shock, he didn't meet resentment. Amazingly theymustered up the strength to forgive him for what he did. But he just can't move on. Ken has confessed his sin t...

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Five Important Questions About Anger

We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people and we're one of them. These two factors are a sure recipe for anger. We get angry and we have to deal with other people's anger. It is such a universal issue that the Bible addresses it head on. It diagnosis the real issue and charts a course out of the muck and mire of our disputes and quarrels. Christ can redeem our he...

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Does God Change His Mind?

This question appears to be the sort of question seminary students like to discuss over a cup of coffee. Something that floats around in the realm of theory, far removed from day to day Christian life. But the issue is more relevant than we think. Our answer reveals our view of God and nothing else shapes our lives more than that. It also touches on one of the greatest pri...

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How to Argue for the Glory of God

Sin loves to rear its ugly head in relationships. No matter how far we progress in our Christian walk, we'll never be out ofMr. Conflict's reach. Even the saintly apostle Paul had his moments. It is true that not all conflict is bad. And it is also true that good can come out of conflict. But most arguments are destructive, aimed at overpowering the other person instead of...

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A Letter to the Pastor

Dear Pastor, I am sending you this letter to explain my regular absence from the Sunday morning service. In my opinion it's permissible to be absent from the church service for the following reasons: Christmas (the Sunday before and after) Easter (we're on vacation that weekend) Super Bowl Sunday (need to get ready for the party) End of the school year (our children nee...

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Marriage Inventory

Pre-marital inventories are pretty popular. They can be a helpful tool as couples identify strengths and potential risks for their marriage, especially when they are part of a Biblical framework. If you strive to have a God-honoring marriage, it's important to evaluate where you're at. For some reason, many couples don't continue this habit after they've exchanged their v...

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Reading the Bible Through the Lens of the Gospel

It's unfortunate that many believers don't read the Old Testament. As part of God's inspired writings (2 Tim. 3:16) it offers much to followers of Jesus today. The Gospel message of grace didn't drop out of the sky in Matthew 1:1; it is sprinkled throughout the entire Old Testament. God preached the Gospel beforehand to Abraham (Gal. 3:8) and Jesus said to the religious l...

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Five Helpful Articles for Parents

As a father I am on the lookout for Biblical and practical input on my role as a parent. Books are great, but time consuming, especially for busy parents! But here are five short articles that I found worth my while. They address different parenting issues in a thought provoking and helpful way. Ed Welch is a speaker, author and counselor. His blogpost "Successful Parenti...

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Seven Questions to Ask Yourself When You Don’t Read the Bible

Diagnosis: "The act of identifying a disease, illness, or problem by examining someone or something" (Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary). What if the "problem" you're dealing with is spending little to no time in the Word of God? What could be the cause? What kind of "virus" may attack your spiritual health? Perhaps these questions can help in making a diagno...

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The Yo-Yo Factor

One of the best illustrations of the Christian life I've ever heard is about a yo-yo. I know this doesn't sound very good, but read on. First the bad news. Our spiritual lives can indeed resemble a yo-yo. Progress and failure alternate easily and sometimes quickly. Up and down we go. This yo-yo dynamic can be quite depressing. But looking through the lens of the Gospel, t...

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When You Feel You Can't Go On

How long? How long? This is the recurring question asked by a person who doesn't know where to turn. He feels paralyzed, exhausted. He is tired of seeing one dead end sign after another. We've all been there, most of us more than once. The Psalms remind us that when we do, we shouldn't think that something strange is happening to us. In the Psalms we see that God fearing...

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Abundant Fruit or a Clean Stable?

Change, some love it and others dread it. Regardless your personal preference, change is inevitable. We know that at times a wind of change is necessary or unavoidable. But this doesn't mean it's easy. In one of his proverbs, Solomon captures the reality that moving ahead can be rough and even unpleasant: "Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops c...

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Encouraged to Pray

It is God's will that we pray. The Bible is packed with exhortations, pleas and inspiring examples to that end. Time after time we're taught the urgency, necesssity and power of prayer. However, most of us struggle with prayer. Surveys show that the vast majority of Christians pray an average of five minutes or less a day. There is much room for growth. Over the years I ...

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When It Is Wrong To Wait

Resolutions are not limited to the beginning of a New Year. Most of us have a running list of goals and desires. From spending more time with our kids, to taking a course, to inviting our neighbors over for coffee; we have our ambitions. And as Christians we can add spiritual objectives to the list: attend prayer meeting, memorize Scripture or help out with the children's ...

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Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices

Thomas Brooks was an ordained minister of the Gospel in England during the 17th century, where the Church of Christ experienced major upheaval. He was also an avid writer. His books combine deep theological insight with helpful practical application. One of his more well-known books is Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices. It is still in print. A free PDF is availabl...

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Bring It and Leave It

I have a confession to make. I am a worrier. It's not that I find pleasure in being anxious, on the contrary. But I fall easily into the trap. When a perceived problem blips on the radar screen, often worry is my initial response. Perhaps you can't relate. But I know that many of you know exactly what I am talking about. Anxiety has different flavors. Some people worry ab...

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About Your Job

Why do people work? The answer seems obvious. Folks work in order to meet their financial and material needs and those of their family. This goes for Christians as well. Didn't God say that "if anyone is not willing to work, he is not to eat either" (2 Thes. 3:10)? There are other reasons as well why people have jobs. Some simply find fulfillment in what they do. Working ...

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Idolatry in Church

Idolatry in church. The title sounds ridiculous. Does it really happen? Is it even possible? Churchgoers don't worship statues. They don't pray to icons or to Mary. When gathered together, we worship the one true God and His Son Jesus Christ. Our songs sing His worth and our preaching expounds His character. But unfortunately idolatry is alive and well in the Church of C...

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To Fear or Not to Fear

How do you harmonize the wonderful "fear nots" in the Bible (Gen. 15:1; Is. 41:10; Heb. 13:6) with the repeated admonition to "fear the Lord" (Deut. 6:3; Acts 9:31; Col. 3:22)? Did you ever think about that? How can we fear God while He drives out our fear? The answer is found in a proper understanding of the fear of the Lord. The English word "fear" is rarely seen as so...

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Making a Difference in Your Local Church

How can you make a difference in your church? I once asked an ordinary church member (if there is such a person...) this question. His reaction surprised and troubled me. This young man stated that he didn't think he was in any position to make a difference in his local church. When I asked him why, he answered: "I am not in a position of influence." It is not that I disa...

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Relationship and Rules

God made us and redeemed us. He knows how the Christian life functions best. We should therefore not be surprised that the Bible tells us how we should live. When you read Scripture carefully however, you discover that God's statutes don't exist in a vacuum. They are imbedded in God's gracious redemption. He first establishes the relationship, then He gives the rules. Wh...

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Everything Under Control

Does your life ever feel like a runaway train? Are you disillusioned and afraid when you think about the state of affairs in the nation? What about some of your other anxieties and concerns? Do you worry about your health, job security, church or (grand)children? Are you tempted to think that your problems are too big to solve and your troubles too complex to untangle? If...

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Nurturing Your Marriage

Every living organism on earth requires food to survive. This is most obviously true for the human body. If the body doesn't receive the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and strong, it will become weak and eventually the person will die. We don't tend to think in this organic way about our marriages, but we should. Marriage is not self-sustaining. There is no internal m...

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Ten Tools for Your Prayer Toolbox

Prayer is an amazing privilege. To think that Almighty God pays attention to our words is hard to believe, but true. And yet I find that many Christians struggle to pray. I certainly do. I am easily distracted and repetitive in what I say. And If I don't watch out, my prayers are quickly reduced to reading items on a shopping list instead of a genuine, heart to heart conve...

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Signs of Spiritual Growth

You will find the pencil marks on pantry door frames or kitchen walls in many houses. Measuring your children's height is fun, encouraging and shocking at the same time. Wow, you've grown that much?! Over time these height marks turn into little treasures. Some parents even refuse to paint over them. We mark growth because we expect growth. It is part of a child's normal ...

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About Movies

A friend asked me a question yesterday. He wanted to know my thoughts on a new movie that is coming out, Beauty and the Beast, a remake of the 1991 Disney Classic. According to its director, the movie will break ground as Disney features an openly gay character. The movie also includes a "nice, exclusively gay moment". Did I think this was a movie Christians could watch or...

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A Gratitude Boost

The most recent World Happiness Report ranked The Netherlands in sixth place of happiest countries in the world, trailing Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, and Finland. Being Dutch myself, I chuckled at these statistics because the Dutch are notorious complainers. Tourists often mention how friendly we are. Yes, ask the Dutch for directions and nine out of ten times ...

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Dreams and Unintentional Sin

Experts tell us that we dream at least two hours every night. Most of us don't recall the mental escapades the next day. But when we do, we usually dismiss them quickly. But how should we think about a dream in which we sin? The content of these dreams can startle, even shock us. Would God want us to view these actions as real sin? It is a good question. Are we answerable...

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The Suffering Servant

The fourth Servant Song in Isaiah (Is. 52:13-53:12) is often read or preached from during the Passion Week, and understandably so. Isaiah penned this poem 700 years before Christ's death. Yet his depiction of the experience and essence of the cross pulsates with New Testament Gospel clarity. Since the Middle Ages, most Jews interpret The Servant as a reference to the nati...

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Puzzling Psalms and ISIS

Terrorist group Boko Haran pursuing Christian genocide in Nigeria. ISIS terrorists threatening to kill children unless their fathers renounce faith in Jesus. Gunmen firing at a bus carrying Coptic Christians in Egypt. Violent hatred against believers is rampant in many parts of the world. We must pray for the persecuted church. But what about the bad guys? There is a type...

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God, Scripture and Despondency

If you do battle with feelings of gloom and thoughts of hopelessness you are not alone. The Bible tells many a story about God's children getting stuck in the Slough of Despond, to borrow a phrase from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. We see Elijah sitting under the broom-tree begging God to take his life (1 Kings 19:4). We hear David's painful words: "I am utterly bowed ...

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Five Takeaways from a Men's Getaway

Yesterday afternoon I returned from a men's retreat at Camp Berea in New Hampshire. Sixty-five men from nine area churches came together for two days of teaching, fellowship, prayer and worship. Here are five things I took home with me. The Bible is still loved. It was encouraging to be in a place where God's Word was taught unapologetically. The call to obedience sounded...

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Our Irresistible Lord

"All the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him" I must have read this sentence countless times. It's found in Luke 15 where Jesus tells three stories: the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son. Every story make the same point, that Jesus came to seek and save sinners. But what struck me this time was the first sentence of this well-k...

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