THE GOSPEL GRACE OF WELCOMING (2)

How Embracing Others with Differences of Conscience Protects Church Unity In my last post, I introduced this subject of dealing redemptively with so-called gray areas in the church. In this post I want to continue the discussion by unpacking the gist of the gospel grace of welcoming that helps preserve unity in this challenging area of church life. The gist of welcoming is an ongoing determination to embrace others in spite of differences over morally neutral matters. Paul speaks in Romans of two different categories of believers. In 14:1 he refers to those ...

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THE GOSPEL GRACE OF WELCOMING

How Embracing Others with Differences of Conscience Protects Church Unity I have always felt that this little ditty hits a little too close to home for comfort: To live above with the saints we love, oh, how that will be glory; but to live below with the saints we know, now that’s a different story. Quote that to any follower of Jesus with any length of time invested in His church, and that person will likely smile, wince, or both from a history of painful experience. The New Testament prescribes numerous--what I call graces of gospel community--which we must ...

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PEACEMAKING & “ALTAR BUILDING”

Marks of a God-Centered Lifestyle Essential for Peacemaking Excellence I posted recently on one of my favorite Bible peacemaking passages--Gen. 13. I failed to mention a critical component in the text--Abram's pattern of altar building. There is  a similarity between how the chapter begins and ends. In this is an insight—perhaps a secret—which explains why Abram could respond the way he did in the conflict with his nephew. Genesis 12:10-20 recounts how Abram barely escaped a near disastrous entanglement with Pharaoh in Egypt. That background sets the stage ...

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THREE ARE BETTER THAN ONE

How God Comforts Abundantly in Loss through the Grief of Others No worries. I'm not misquoting the sacred text in Ecc. 4:9-12. 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Two are better than one. No doubt ...

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BACK TO GENESIS

Tomorrow, Lord willing, we return to our study of the first book of the Bible—Genesis. We first started our expositional trek through what I have entitled “The Book of Beginnings” back in February of 2015. We made it as far as half of Gen. 14 in October of that year, before my fractured jaw brought us to a screeching halt. Two surgeries and medical leaves later we can finally get back to this strategic, foundational book of the Bible. I am excited for us to arrive at this point for several reasons. One, it means I have recovered sufficiently to climb back ...

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FIGHTING ANGER WITH PRAYER

Martin Luther's Petitions in Light of the Sixth Commandment "You shall not murder." That's the sixth of the Ten Commandments. No one questions the literal meaning. Apart from certain exceptions--as in the state's legitimate authority to punish evil (Rom. 13:1-7)--it is unlawful to take human life made in the image of God (Gen. 9:5-6). Jesus drilled down even further with this commandment. He expounded on it at a heart level in Matt. 5:21-26. Unjust anger constitutes a violation of the sixth commandment as well. And who doesn't struggle with that? The Bible ...

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HEADING OFF RELATIONAL DISASTERS

Six Marks of a Spirit of Magnanimity for Preventing Conflict One of my favorite Old Testament accounts with peacemaking implications is Gen. 13:1-18. It tells of Abram's largess in responding to Lot, his nephew, when a potential meltdown brewed on the south 40. Here are a number of principles we can learn from the way Abram intercepted a family rupture before it ever happened. First, taking initiative to diffuse tension. The conflict starts among the herdsmen. It doesn’t start with Lot and Abram, but their servants. It had to do with the tensions created by the ...

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GUARDING ONENESS

How to Deal with the Killer of Unity in Any Relationship My mentor and friend surprised me the other day. I asked if he could recommend a go-to resource on marriage. I figured he would point to any number of more recent publications by major evangelical authors. Not so. He suggested Larry Crabb's 1991 publication Men & Women: Enjoying the Difference (Zondervan). It just so happens I have a copy in my library. I read it years ago. Never hurts to take another look, so I pulled it off the shelf and began reading again. It took only twenty-eight pages before these ...

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OUR BEST & NOTHING LESS

Pursuing Excellence as Peacemakers for 2017 in the Church God’s word tells us many things we must do for Jesus in light of who we are in Jesus. A select list of responsibilities, however, are subject to a be-the-best-we-can-be, give-our-all, go-all-out kind of excellence in obeying them. One of those responsibilities in particular for every church-going follower of Jesus gets a lot of Bible press. I’m talking about peacemaking. The Scriptures make this very clear in numerous places. Perhaps Ephesians 4:1-6 says it most thoroughly among them. I therefore, a ...

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A PEACEMAKING WIFE

How Nancy Excelled at Safeguarding Oneness in Our Marriage Today would have marked our 42nd wedding anniversary. Ever since Nan went home to Jesus last May 31, I've wondered how this final major historical marker would unfold for me. As I paged through our wedding album this morning, tears fell again. I have so many great memories of life with the wife my youth. We enjoyed uncommon oneness by and large throughout the years. In this personal post, I want to pay tribute to Nan the peacemaker. She took Eph. 4:1-3 seriously in the church and in our marriage. She ...

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