What Costume Will You Wear Today?

Grace For The Journey


31Oct  I am not a supporter of “celebrating” Halloween.  This observance is firmly rooted in pagan tradition and continues to rise in popularity as a festival of the occult.  Back in my childhood, Halloween was little more than carving out pumpkins and a night out trick-or-treating with the neighborhood kids.  Today it is big business for adults and kids alike, including horror movies, haunted houses, sophisticated costumes, and Halloween parties and celebrations of all shapes and sizes.

Because today is Halloween and likely we will have young, costumed visitors coming to our homes looking for candy, I thought I would write about the “costumes” we adults like to wear year-round.  And I’m not talking about the store-bought ones!

The Bible says in Genesis3:1-13, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,’ but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.   And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.’ Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’”

Adam and Eve constructed the first-ever “costumes” in the Garden of Eden after they stepped into the serpent’s trap.  When their consciences were seared by their sin, they sewed fig leaves together to cover their nakedness and shame.  And when they heard the sound of God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day, they ran and hid.

This is the primary reason we wear our costumes.

We like to hide ourselves from the view of others.  We don’t want anyone to see what we are really like . . . as if our blemishes are unique to us.

God confronted Adam and Eve in love and not in anger, but instead of confessing their sin and seeking God’s forgiveness, they attempted to shift blame.  Adam blamed Eve and God Himself (“The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me fruit . . .”); Eve blamed the serpent; and we all have been blame-shifting ever since.  We wear costumes, seeking to cover our mistakes, shortcomings, and sins – which makes it easier for us to blame others and God for the predicaments we find ourselves in.

Wearing costumes allows us to keep from confronting the real person underneath the mask.  This, of course, is a great comfort for all those who willingly seek after satisfying the desires of the flesh rather than the Spirit.

So . . . what costumes have you been wearing lately?  What would happen if you took yours off?

The Gospel frees us to step out of our costumes, because – regardless of what we have done, who we have become, what we think of ourselves, or what others think of us –

God’s love is as unchanging as it is unconditional.

Costumes enslave us; the Gospel frees us.  Costumes blind to the glories of His kingdom; the Gospel opens our eyes to see with the eyes of faith.  The Gospel liberates us from the need to hide and when we are found out it rids us of the need to blame.

Jesus died to set the captives free,


In Christ we are free indeed to be exactly what we are:

Great sinners in need of an even greater Savior.

As fallen, sinful people living in a broken, sin-filled world, we can step out of every costume we wear for creaturely comfort, because the only true source of comfort is found in Christ.

What costume are you wearing today?

Why not rest is the reality of being clothed in the righteousness of Christ?

With His robe of righteousness wrapped tightly around you, what else could you possibly need?

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


God Works Even Through Our Heartaches

Grace For The Journey


27Oct I can’t get away from the powerful message of John 11.  I know I have written about these verses in a recent blog or two.  But the truths in this passage are truths that our world needs to desperately hear and experience.  But, this chapter speaks directly to me – for Kay and I have known the pain and sorrow of losing family members.  My precious wife and I have two daughters, who we were privileged to have the joy of having in our family – Ashley for 18 years and Cathy for 34 years – who are in heaven today.  Ashley passed on in 2008 and Cathy went to heaven in 2010.  While we still miss them, we look forward to the time when we will see them again in heaven.  We stand and rest in the hope that Jesus provides in this encounter with two grieving sisters in this chapter.

So today, allow me to unfold and expound on these verses for a few moments.  Jesus says in John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Jesus didn’t speak those astonishing words during a lecture in philosophy.  He didn’t write them in a book of poetry.  He spoke them in “the real world,” and to people just like you and me – people who lived, and worked, and enjoyed being with their loved ones; people whose lives were suddenly and abruptly interrupted by the great enemy of death.  He spoke those words in the context of real sorrow; in the hearing of real people who were feeling the painful loss of someone that they loved.  He spoke those words to people whose souls were starving for the hope of eternity.  He spoke those words of victorious hope in order to give an answer to the loss felt by real, hurting people like us.

The Bible tells us in John 11 that Lazarus became gravely sick.  Jesus was several days’ journey away at the time; and Lazarus’ two sisters sent a messenger to Jesus to tell Him, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick” (John 11:3). They believed that Lazarus was about to die; and they expected that Jesus – who had healed so many sick people – would come right away and heal His dear friend.

But the amazing thing is that Jesus didn’t come.  Instead, He sent the messenger back with the strange message, “This sickness is not unto death but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (verse 4). And then, Jesus stayed right where He was for two more days.

Finally, after two days, Jesus suddenly told His disciples, “’Let us go to Judea again.’  He told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.’” (verse 11).  Perhaps it was because His disciples remembered that He had said that the sickness wasn’t unto death; but for whatever reason, they didn’t understand.  They said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well” (Verse 12).  They thought it would be a little like going to wake Lazarus up to give him his sleeping pill!   It was then that Jesus said something very remarkable – something that would be amazing to hear from a friend. He said, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad . . .” (verses 14-15a).

Taken by itself, what an odd thing to say!   But that’s not all Jesus said.  What He goes on to say indicated His sovereign purpose in all that was going on.  He said,  “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless, let us go to him (verses 14-15).

By the way; do you notice a continual theme in all this?  Jesus kept letting everyone know that there was a purpose in the sickness of Lazarus – and even in his death. Jesus asserted that it was for the glory of God “that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (verse 4), and “so that you may believe” (verse 15).  Jesus was testifying that God was going to demonstrate something significant about Jesus in the events that were about to take place.

If I may pause here for a moment; there’s a lesson for us in that.

Sometimes, the things that seem so tragic and pointless to us are, in reality, the appointed means that our sovereign God uses to demonstrate the greatness of His wonderful Son, Jesus.  It may seem to us at such times that God isn’t listening to our prayers, or that He’s being insensitive toward us – making us wait for no reason; when in reality, God is waiting for just the right moment to display His glory to us during those times of trial.

Such was certainly the case here; and I suspect such is very often the case for us – without our realizing it – in some of the difficulties and trials we face in life.

We should learn to trust Him,

Wait on His perfect timing,


Watch for the display of His glorious power.

As Jesus says later in this passage, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (verse 40).

And so, Jesus and His disciples made their way to Bethany.  And when they arrived a few days later, they found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Many of the people from the city of Jerusalem had come to comfort Mary and Martha over the loss of their brother.  And perhaps we aren’t too surprised to find that, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, Martha couldn’t even sit still and wait for Him to arrive.  She left Mary sitting at the house and ran off to meet Jesus on the road.

Martha, no doubt, remembered what Jesus said – that “this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (verse 4).  And as Jesus drew near, I believe she felt a mix of emotions all at once – comfort at Jesus’ presence; grief over her brother’s death; disappointment because of Jesus’ delay; confusion about His promise; and – with it all – hope over what He might even still be able to do for her brother.

I can’t help but picture her in tears as she said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (verse 22).  I also imagine Jesus being very tender toward her.  I can imagine Jesus holding her by the shoulders, looking gently into her eyes, and saying, “Your brother will rise again” (verse 23).

Martha didn’t really understand what Jesus meant by those words.  She thought He was simply saying one of those kinds of things that people say at such times when they just don’t know what else to say.  And even though I believe her heart sank in despair for a moment, she wiped her tears away, nodded and said, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (verse 24).  Yes, Martha thought; Lazarus will “rise” on that great day – just as the Scriptures that all Jewish people read had promised.  Martha was being what she always was: “practical”.

Martha was right to believe that Lazarus would be resurrected.  But what she didn’t understand that the only One who had the power to fulfill the promise of the Scripture and raise the dead – whether on the last day, or right then, or at any other time – was standing right before her. She thought that “the resurrection” was – somehow – some independent event; and yet, Jesus asserted to her that the resurrection was inseparable from Himself.

Still looking her in the eyes, it’s then that Jesus uttered those important words; “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? And she said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord. I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’” (verses 25-27).

And before we go on, I’d like to suggest to you that that is the main point that this story is seeking to bring home to us. On another occasion, Jesus said,

Verily I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:25-29).

Let that sink in.

The resurrection is not just an event.

It is a Person. Jesus is the Son of God.

All authority rests in Him.  “Resurrection” is His initiative.  The great hope of the resurrection is never to be seen as something that is somehow distinct from Him; because He Himself IS “the resurrection and the life”.

Now, Martha – ever the high-controller – ran back home, secretly called Mary, and said, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.”  Perhaps Martha did this secretly because she wanted their time with Jesus to be private.  But whatever the motivation was for the secrecy, God clearly had other plans.  It was His purpose in all this to display His glory before the eyes of all.  When the Jewish people, who were there to comfort the two sisters, saw Mary jump up and run out, they thought that she was going out to the tomb of her brother to weep there.  They, no doubt, thought that they needed to take care of Mary too; so they followed her out – only to find her fallen on the ground at the feet of Jesus.

“Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died,” she said – in the very same words that Martha spoke to Him.  But interestingly enough, Jesus didn’t say the same thing to her as He had said to Martha.  Instead, He looked upon her as she wept; and then He looked upon the Jews that came with her as they also wept.  And the Bible tells us that “He groaned in the spirit and was troubled” (verse 33). “Where have you laid him?” Jesus asked; and after they said to Him, “Lord, come and see” (verse 34).

That’s when we find those marvelous words, “Jesus wept” (verse 35).  Why did Jesus weep?  Wasn’t He about to raise Lazarus?  He certainly wasn’t sorrowing for despair as they were.  There can only be one reason. As it says in Hebrews 4:15-16,

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).

When Jesus said that He was the resurrection and the life, He didn’t speak as if He were merely giving a lecture in theology.  He spoke those words as a loving friend who felt very much the pain of the people around Him, and sought to set substantial hope and genuine comfort before them.  As He went to the tomb weeping, Jesus not only made it plain that He knew what it felt like to lose someone through the great enemy ‘death’; He also made it plain that He is the only One who can conquer it.

Still groaning in His heart, the Bible tells us that Jesus came to the tomb. The tomb was a cave with a large stone rolled in front of it to close it off.  It must have had a very ‘final’ look to it. And yet, Jesus commanded, “Take away the stone” (verse 39).

That’s when Martha just had to get her hand in again. “’Lord,’ she said, ‘by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.’” Like I have said before: Martha is “practical”. But note those important words that Jesus spoke in response: “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God? (verse 40).”

The Bible is breathtakingly plain in the way it described what happened next. It says;

“Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.’ Now when He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, ‘“Lazarus, come forth!’ And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Loose him, and let him go’” (verses 41-44).

Some say that Jesus had to call Lazarus out by name; otherwise all who were dead would have come out!  And don’t miss the result: “Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had sent the things Jesus did, believed in Him” (verse 45).

Jesus went to great lengths to repeatedly affirm God’s purpose in all this. It was the Father’s plan to display His glory through His Son Jesus – the One who is “the resurrection and the life”.  We find this purpose stated often in this passage. Jesus had said that “this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (verse 4). He even told His disciples that He was glad for their sakes that He was not there to save Lazarus’ life, “that you may believe” (verse 15). He told Martha, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (verse 40). When He prayed, He even affirmed to the Father that it was so that those standing around would believe that the Father had sent Him (verse 42). And when it was over, many who saw did believe in Him (verse 45).

In Him we always have hope and a future!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”



Safety In Storms

Grace For The Journey


26Oct  Storms are certain.  Most of us have passed through many of them.

But just as storms are certain, so too is our safety in them.

The Bible says in Mark 4:35-41, “When evening came, [Jesus] said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’” 

It is important to notice a few things in this passage if we are going to understand the safety we have in our storms.

First, Jesus said, “Let us go over to the other side.” Along the way, a storm came up and the disciples thought they were headed to the bottom of the sea. The storm was so fierce that the disciples forgot what Jesus said about going over to the other side of the lake.  If Jesus said they were going to the other side of the lake, they were going to the other side!  Nothing was going to stop them . . . not even a furious storm.

Second, we should see that Jesus was just as calm as the storm was about to be.  He was asleep on a cushion!  Jesus is not troubled by the storms that blow our way.  His sleeping in the middle of a storm is meant as a comfort to us.  If our Lord is not worried and fearful, we should not be worried or fearful either.

Third, Jesus is more powerful that the storm.  The wind and waves obeyed Jesus.  Everything is in the sovereign control of our Lord (Psalm 135:6).  Not a bird falls to the ground apart from His will (Matthew 10:29). Nothing happens to us that doesn’t first pass through His nail-scarred hands.

Finally, we cannot miss the fact that Jesus was right there in the middle of the storm with His disciples, just as He is always with us in the middle of the storms of life.  He promised never to leave us nor forsake us . . . and He does not make an exception for storms.  Our Lord is not a fair-weather friend.

He is with us in the middle of every storm that blows our way.

This provides us with a wonderful picture of the safety we have been promised in every storm that we encounter.  Jesus is with us in the middle of the storm; Jesus is in control of the storm; He is not unsettled by it.  As the wonderful contemporary hymn declares:

No power of hell, no scheme of man,

can ever pluck me from His hand;

Till He returns or calls me home,

Here in the power of Christ I stand.

And don’t miss this: when Jesus says we are going over to the other side, we will get to the other side.  No storm will stop us, regardless of how furious or frightening it might be.

Jesus has promised to bring through the other side of the grave and there is nothing that will stop Him.  No storm . . . no scheme of Satan . . . nothing will stop our Savior from keeping His promise . . . NOTHING!

We are safe in the arms of Jesus!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”




Grace For the Journey



25Oct  Many Christians are locked solidly in the grip of guilt.  They simply cannot get beyond a past littered with sin . . .

  • The sin of self-rule
  • The sin of self-focus
  • The sin of self-righteousness
  • The sin of self-centeredness
  • The sin of self-love

And the list goes on and on and on.

This is the place the devil wants us to live.

He wants us to wallow in the past,

Which keeps us from living in the present.

To be sure, if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, the devil cannot take you out of the nail-scarred hands of your  Lord (John10:28), but he can get you to focus so tightly on your sinful past that you never live in the forgiven present of your God-given potential.

Living in the grip of guilt stunts our growth, slows our progress, and shuts off the flow of God’s blessings to our lives.  In other words, we take a truncated view of the glorious Gospel.  We view the work of Christ on our behalf as incomplete in its ability to save us “to the uttermost” (Hebrews 7:25) and remove all of our guilt.

But this is not what God wants for us!

The Bible says in Romans 8:1-4, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

If Paul did not believe what he wrote, he never would have been able to rise above a past littered with sin – and not just your common, garden-variety sin – but his approving role in the execution of Stephen, the first Christian martyr.  Read Paul’s words carefully, remembering he was the one who held the coats of those who stoned Stephen to death.

Under the leading of the Holy Spirit, he wrote in 1 Timothy 1:13-15, “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”

How could Paul see himself as the “chief sinner” and still do the work God called him to do?  The answer is that . . .

Paul had a clear view of the Gospel


Refused to be held in the devil’s grip of guilt.

John Newton wrote one of the most beloved Christian hymns, Amazing Grace. Newton wrote those wonderful lyrics with the full knowledge and remembrance of his past life as a notorious slave trader.  So how could he rise above this horrible history and faithfully serve his Savior until he passed into glory?  Like Paul, Newton had a clear view of the Gospel and refused to be held in the devil’s grip of guilt.

So . . . what about you?  How clear is your view of the Gospel?  Check your guilt and remember these words John Newton uttered shortly before his death at the age of 82: “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior.”

Now that is what we should remember as we respond to God’s call in our lives;

God’s grace is greater than all our sins!

And so we are to shake free from the grip of guilt, no matter what our past was like.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”



Grace For The Journey

24Oct  What is the hope for the Christian and the world?  Many are look for change and hope from an earthly source, but are being deeply disappointed in the outcome.  This change and hope that the world seeks is not found in power, popularity, prosperity, possession, or position, but in a person.

The Bible records in John 11:25-26, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’”

Our hope for this life and the life to come is found in a wonderful Person – Jesus.

Jesus’ resurrection is the substance of our hope in everyday life and the testimony His followers – “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19).

There are certain truths God presents to us in the Bible that are central.  They are so crucial, that every aspect of our spiritual well-being depends on our believing them.  Someone has called them “trickle-down truths.”  Our orientation toward them will trickle down to every other area of life.  The Bible’s teaching about the power and hope of the resurrection is one of those “trickle-down” truths.  Everything else in our life will depend on how we are oriented to the hope of the resurrection.

Because of this truth, we who are in Christ can expect – as the Bible teaches – to one day be resurrected from the dead.  Because death has been conquered for us we can go on to live a life fundamentally characterized by confident hope, peace, and joy.

We can rejoice in hope just as King David prayed in Psalm 16:9-11: “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope. For you will not leave my soul in Sheol [that is, in the abode of the dead], nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

By contrast, if your heart is not gripped by that hope – if you are like so many today who simply believe that, when you die, you just die and that’s the end of it – then that lack of faith in the Bible’s teaching about the resurrection will trickle down into every area of life as well.  As the writer of Ecclesiastes suggests, the man or woman who has no hope of resurrection is no better off than an animal: “For what happens to the sons of men also happens to the animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other.  Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity.  All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.” (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20)

How grim!  And if this is true of men or women who spend their whole lives pursuing their own pleasures and interests; how much more true is it of those who would give ourselves in sacrifice to the concerns and interests of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ!  As the Bible says of Christians in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”

But the Good News we learn about from the Bible will lead us to affirm that, because Jesus rose from the dead, we live in hope.  Our whole lives are characterized by hope because Jesus’ tomb is empty and He is alive today!  He Himself is a “living hope.”  Jesus said, in John 11:25-26: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”  This passage of Scripture teaches us that because He is alive today, He Himself is to be the substance of our own personal experience of hope in the midst of all the challenges of daily life.

Is there any area in your life where you find some kind of “death” knocking at your door? Remember, Jesus is bigger than any problem you are currently facing and He has a Word that will guide you through every storm.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life.

He and He alone takes what is dead and brings to it life.  And that includes every set of circumstances that may seem utterly hopeless to you.

In Him you always have hope!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”



Grace For The Journey

22Oct  Last week I didn’t have time to send out my blog.  It was an extra busy week for me and our church family.    We presented the Judgement House drama “Payback: When Revenge Turns To Ruin.”  It is an 8 room walk-through drama that depicts the lives of people who go through challenging experiences in life and the decisions they make that affect their lives now and in eternity.  This year’s script was on “bullying.”  It was about a teenager who is bullied at school and who ultimately makes choices that harm him and others, some who are innocent victims.

The reality is that bullying is becoming epidemic in our nation and the tragic response of “payback” has brought heartache, hurt, and death to so many.  The drama presented this reality a in clear way and also offered the solution to handling life’s struggles through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

That is why we as a church family put on the drama.  Our also church family goes to all this effort because we are extremely passionate about helping people make an eternal connection with Jesus Christ that will impact their lives now and for eternity.

We also go to all the effort of presenting the drama because there are realities of life that we want people to leave thinking about and understanding.  These realities are important because how we respond to them will affect our eternal destiny.

I have discovered through my years in the ministry that these realities are things that people don’t think about very much … people get so wrapped up in living life in the here-and-now that they don’t take the time to consider these important realities.  We don’t present these realities to scare people but to get them to think about and understand that there is an urgency regarding the decision one makes about where they will spend eternity.

That is what the drama does.  It drives home the realities we all need to know in this life and the rescue plan that God has provided to allow us to overcome these realities.

I want to talk about those two topics in my blog today.


The first reality is – You and I are not guaranteed tomorrow

The drama presented young people who had a lot going on in their lives.  As they planned activities and looked forward to attending special events none of them knew when the last moment of their lives would come.

Secondly, the drama also presented what God says about us and the condition we are in.  The folks going through the drama heard that …

1) Everyone has sinned, and

2) We all fall short of God’s standard.

What that means is this – God is a perfect God, and His standard is perfection … He can do no wrong – He is a good and perfect God.  We, on the other hand, have all sinned – that is a word for coming short of God’s standard – there are things we do that displease God and hurt ourselves and others.  The Bible teaches that nobody is perfect – even as much as we may want to be or try to do good all the time – it is impossible … even the greatest of people occasionally do wrong and slip up.

Now I think we would all agree that that is bad news.  There is this perfect God and there is this imperfect me, who can’t do enough to be perfect … so how do I reconcile that?

But, the problem is that is gets works.  The Bible goes on to teach us that the “wages of sin is death” – in other words, there is a cost or consequence for our sin – and that is eternal separation from God in a place called hell.

But, in the midst of all this bad news … God has given us some Good News …


Here’s the good news … and this is my favorite part … because I never get tired of talking about this – hell was not meant for you and me.   God could have easily said, “You owe me.  I am a perfect God, you have gone against My standards, you have sinned, you have a debt to pay, good luck.”  He could have walked out of the picture … but He didn’t … God came up with a rescue plan.

The Bible doesn’t stop with the bad news, “The wages of sin is death …” it goes on to say, “but” (that is a really great word – it indicates that there can be a different outcome, a different conclusion).   Romans 6:23 goes on to say, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The Bible teaches that God has given us a gift and it is not something that is earned or deserved, and that gift is Jesus.

God explains to us all about it in a fantastic verse – John 3:16 – The first part of that verse says, “For God so loved the world” … that is a powerful statement … Think about that for a minute … God loves you … in spite of your imperfections , your brokenness, or how much you have done wrong.  That is an incredible truth – that regardless of what I think of myself, or what other people think about me, God loves me!

This verse goes on to show us what God’s love led Him to do (“… that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him not perish (that’s hell) but will have eternal life (that’s heaven)”  – God loves us so much that He did not want us to remain broken and separated from Him and so He sent Jesus to take our place and pay the penalty for our sin –God says you are broken, but I came up with a rescue and recovery plan … I have done all the work and all you have to do is accept what I have done for you.

God says all you have to do is put your faith and trust in what My Son has done for you and everything will be taken care of – your sins will be forgiven, you get a relationship with Jesus, you get to go to heaven when you die … all you have to do is say yes to Jesus.

Folks, that is the story of the Bible and it is the greatest news in the world!

Throughout the drama people saw all the choices we make in life, the most important one is the choice to accept Jesus before it is too late.

I am so glad that as a young child, I heard the realities of life and accepted God’s rescue plan!  I recognized that I was a sinner, that I could not save myself, and I trusted in what Jesus did for me on the cross and His resurrection, and I am resting in that decision.

The question that the Judgement House drama drives home is . . .

What choice will you make? … Where will you spend eternity?

It is important that we think about this and accept God’s rescue plan before it is too late.

That is what our church is all about … That is what Christianity is all about!

This truth out to make us eager and excited to share the Good News to those around us.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”























Grace For The Journey


13OctA  Imagine that you’re heading out on a journey.  A search of “mapquest.com” reveals three different routes you can take: one turns to the left, one turns to the right, and one goes straight ahead.  Which one would you take? You might be thinking, “Pastor Terry, that depends on where I am going!”

What if you saw this passage inscribed on the sign post?

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:7)

Now which road would you take?  Joshua is telling us that the path of obedience is the pathway to success . . . and success is always straight ahead.

Success for the saints of God depends upon their obedience to God.

Turning to the right or to the left will take us off the course God has set before us and is calling is to travel.

Notice that Joshua warned us to “be careful to obey,” which seems to suggest it is easy for us to get a bit careless when it comes to our walk with the Lord.  How easy it is to neglect the things of God when we are working through the challenges of daily living!

  • We neglect Scripture.
  • We neglect prayer.
  • We neglect worship.
  • We neglect fellowship.
  • We neglect serving.
  • We neglect giving.

By nature, we turn this way and that way, to the right and to the left.  Sometimes we are distracted by things smaller than Jesus.  Other times we are simply looking for the path of least resistance.  Yet our God has often ordained a rough road for the redeemed to take.  This is the straight way to our Savior; it is the way He has ordained to bring us to the end of ourselves, which is the greatest success He has promised.  As we decrease, He increases and we are conformed more and more into the image and likeness of Christ . . . the place where both our strength and courage grow.

To be sure, this is the only kind of success that truly matters!

By the way, remember, Moses did not start out looking straight ahead at his Savior.  When he was in the court of Pharaoh and saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave, one of his own people, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.  But how instructive the text is when we read just prior to this sinful, man-centered act of salvation that Moses looked “this way and that way” (Exodus 2:12), cutting him off from any measure of success in the eyes of God.  You see, there is only one path to success as God has defined it – and that path is straight ahead!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


The Great Replacement

Grace For The Journey

12Oct  Have you ever thought yourself to be free from idolatry? Do you believe that idolatry has been reserved only for the most primitive of people on the other side of the world?  If you do . . . think again!

Idolatry, by definition, is simply replacing the worship of anything in creation instead of the One who created it.  It is hardwired into our fallen nature to repeatedly overlook our Creator and grasp at His creation.  Take a look at this list of idols and see if any of them sound like you:

  • We seek our identity in our work.
  • We seek our power in our position.
  • We seek our security in our finances.
  • We seek our significance in our peer approval.
  • We seek our purpose in our kids.
  • We seek our pleasure in our spouses.
  • We seek our meaning in our ministry.

Created things were never intended to give you what only your Creator can provide.

Idols simply cannot deliver on what they promise!  The Bible says in Romans 1:25, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen!”

The great replacement is the replacement of God with anything other than God.

  • We replace the supernatural with the natural.
  • We replace the spiritual with the physical.
  • We replace the eternal with the temporal.

And we all do it far more often than we would like to admit.  Think back over the past week: what have you been pursuing and praying for?  What caused you to get up early and stay up late?

Many of the things we go after are, in fact, good things.

  • Work is good.
  • Family is good.
  • Money is good.
  • Ministry is good.

These good things only become bad things when they become ultimate things and replace the only One worth pursuing:


Everything we look for in creation can only be given to us in our Creator.

  • We are to find our identity in Him and not in our work.
  • We are to find our power in Him and not in our position.
  • We must find our security in Him and not in our finances.
  • We should find our significance in Him and not in the approval of others.
  • We must find our purpose in Him and not in our kids.
  • We are to find our pleasure in Him and not in our spouses.
  • We must find our meaning in Him and not in our ministries.

It’s all about Him!

The Gospel is the cure for putting the Creator back in His rightful place in our lives.  The more we think about and live by the truths of the Gospel and the finished work of Christ, the less we move toward created things.

We must always remember that everything we need we already have in Jesus.

As someone has said,

“Jesus plus nothing equals everything.”

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”




Grace For The Journey


The Bible tells us in Luke 15:2, “The Pharisees and Scribes complained, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’”

Who is “this Man” who welcomes sinners and eats with them?  He is, of course, none other than Jesus – God incarnate, fully divine and fully man . . . the Word who was with God, who was God, and who became flesh (John 1:1, 14).  He is Jesus the Messiah, who left the throne room of heaven, took on the flesh of man, lived as a surrendered vessel, and willingly died on an old rugged cross to pay the penalty for sin.

This Man is Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords . . .

Who suffered the tortures of the damned so that you and I might know the eternal blessedness of the redeemed.

In trying to wrap our minds around this profound truth, Charles Spurgeon helps us understand the difficulty when he says ,

“It needs an angel’s tongue to describe such a mighty stoop of love.”

Yet this “stoop of love” was done for people like you and me,

Sinners who are desperately in need of a Savior.

How tragic that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law grumbled about this ineffable stoop of love, which they themselves needed so badly!  But, blinded by their own self-righteousness, they could not see themselves as they truly were: sinners, separated from God – “dead men walking,” if you will – in need of This Man, the heaven-sent Savior.

Even the very best of men are only men at best, but not this Man.

This Man is a man like no other.  This Man is the supreme man, the God-man, before whom one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord of all.  This Man is the greatest man in every way, and He is the supreme revelation of God.

This Man is greater than the first man, Adam.

Adam was promised life if he obeyed . . . but disobeyed. This Man was promised death if He obeyed . . . and . . . He obeyed completely . . . and died on a cross for those He welcomed and ate with – sinners like you and me!

This Man is greater than the man Moses.

Moses delivered the people of God out of bondage and into their earthly and temporal Promised Land.  But this Man delivers the people of God out of bondage into their heavenly and eternal Promised Home.

This Man is greater than the prophets.

To be sure, all of the Old Testament prophets were great men, but this Man was greater in rank, power, ministry, and authority.  The prophets were used by God to speak the Word of God; this Man was, is, and forever shall be the very Word of God who has always existed.

This Man is greater than even the high priest of Israel.

He was the one who offered sacrifices for the sins of God’s people.  These sacrifices were mere shadows of the Substance that was to come.  And in the fullness of time, this Man came and offered Himself as the supreme sacrifice, offered once for all, for the sins of God’s people.

But, As incredible as this all is, there is even more.

When this Man welcomes sinners, He welcomes them with a promise that one day they will be sinners no more (Revelation 21:4).  Reader, if you have trusted in Christ’s atoning work on your behalf, that promise includes you!

That’s right . . . Consider This . . .

  • This Man, who began a good and perfect work in you, will one day complete what He has started.
  • This Man, who has brought you out of the grave, will one day soon bring you into glory.
  • This Man loved you just as you were – a vile, depraved, corrupted sinner, an enemy of God.
  • Jesus Christ loved you so much that He would not leave you in that

If you have admitted to God and yourself that you are a sinner … that you cannot save yourself … have turned from that sin … have accepted what Christ has done on the cross and the empty tomb … and asked Him to forgive you and be your Savior … when you breathe your last and are received into glory, you will life eternal and all the glories of heaven because of what God has done through This Man.

So . . . have you received this Man as your Savior and Lord?  If not, He is still welcoming sinners today.  Make these glorious promises yours this day!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”


Rescued From Feeling Like A Freak!

Grace For The Journey


10Oct(1)   10Oct(2)  Have you ever felt freakish because of the trials and temptations you’ve been facing in your life . . . as if you are the only one going through what you are going through?  I have a word of comfort for you today . . . and it’s a word of comfort for me too!

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

A quick check for definitions of the word freak yields, “A person on exhibition as an example of a strange deviation from nature; monster.”  A “freak” is so far removed from “ordinary” that we are tempted to turn and gape in astonishment when we see one, as we might stare at the “bearded lady” displayed at a circus.  A freak is in a special category.

Let me assure you that our struggles with temptation do not make us freaks!  The Bible makes it clear that because of our indwelling sin nature, we all wrestle with temptation. No temptation has seized us except what is common to all men.

Most of us have heard sermons preached on this verse.  We tend to confine our focus to the last portion of the text.  We know God will provide a way for us to stand and have victory over our temptations.  But the first thing we need to understand – if we are ever going to find the strength to resist temptation – is the commonness of it.

Someone once wrote, “The knowledge that others struggle as we do rescues us from the weakening despair of thinking that we are unique and strange when we feel tempted.”  In other words, you should no longer feel like a freak because of the temptations you are struggling with.  You are not alone!

Temptation is a common life experience for everyone.  And a temptation is not a sin.  Yielding to it is sin, not the presence of it.  Remember, even Jesus Himself was tempted by the devil.  The Bible says in Matthew 4:1, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”  Yet we know there was no sin in His perfect life.  Hebrews 4:15 confirms that Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.”

When we understand that others did and do struggle against the same temptations and trials we encounter, we feel less isolated and freakish.  Knowing we are all confronting temptation in one form or another is a source of strength in the battle.  If we feel we are abnormal and alone, we may easily give up and give in to the temptations that plague us.  And this is the place of abject surrender to which Satan wants to drive all of us.

The Bible makes it clear we are not alone in our fight against temptation,

And the Gospel gives us the power to resist.

And when we fail to resist, the Gospel gives us the grace to come running to the throne of grace, where we find unending forgiveness and unconditional love, which empowers us to go further in and further up into our salvation.  The less freakish we feel about our individual temptations the more we will desire to be faithful, knowing we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who struggled mightily, just as we do.

Most of us can repeat 1 John 1:9 from memory: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  But have you looked at that verse in context lately?  See how the Holy Spirit bookended that marvelous promise of God’s grace and forgiveness!  I’m going to highlight verses 8 and 10 of 1 John below to emphasize The Bible’s matter-of-fact appraisal of our fallen nature:

(8) “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (10) If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

Do you see that?  The Bible is, in essence, telling us: “Don’t even think about trying to pass yourself off as someone who wins all your battles against temptation.  If you do, you’re a liar.  Worse still, you’re calling God a liar!”

Remember, there was only One who walked this earth and never once surrendered to temptation!  Because of His victory, we can look forward to the day we too shall live in victory, a day when there will be no more temptation . . . no more tears . . . no more cries of “O wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:24).

Until that glorious day, let’s fight in the strength of the Lord, knowing we are all in the battle together.  Know that He is there to battle with you!  Keep this Bible truth always before you, “Because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18)

Therefore, let us follow the biblical teaching of Hebrews 3:13, “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”  A good way to close my blog for today is in reciting one of the verses from the song Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher . . .  

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

You’re my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”