Category Archives: Church Life

How to Pray High-Impact Prayers

If someone universally acknowledged as a modern-day saint prayed regularly for you, what would he or she pray? We know what we would want them to pray: that our children would fare well, that we would have enough money to … Continue reading

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A Three-Point Sermon (in Nine Words)

In Romans 12:12, the Apostle Paul writes: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” There is a wonderful three-point sermon in those nine words.[1] Point one: there is a great future ahead of us, so be joyful in hope. Point two: there are great difficulties surrounding us, so be patient in affliction. And point three: there is a great God above us, so be faithful in prayer. Continue reading

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Climate Change in a Desert of Disrespect

Outside the church, people rationed respect (and still do). Inside the church, there was an abundance of it. James Dunn translates this phrase, “Showing the way to one another in respect.” In other words, in the church we are not to wait for others to show respect. We are to go first.

Now, wait a minute! Why should I go first? I’ll show you respect … as soon as you show it to me. I’ve heard husbands say, “As soon as she starts showing me some respect, I’ll start being more loving.” I’ve heard parents say, “My kids aren’t getting anything from me until they start showing me the respect I deserve.”

We think that honor is a zero sum game: giving it to someone else diminishes our own. How will we ever go first when that is what we think? But going first is just what Paul expects us to do. Continue reading

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Committed to Christlikeness

This sermon is from Romans 8:28-30, and treats the Christian’s commitment to becoming Christlike.

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When it Comes to Love: Know the Operating Specs

We often assume that 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a is telling us what we are ordered to do – or at least what we should do. But read it for yourself: There are no commands here—not a single imperative (or even subjunctive) mood verb in this entire section. Paul is not ordering us to love; he is describing love to us. The 15 active voice verbs in this section provide us with love’s operating specs, which we can then use in our own lives. This is intensely practical stuff.

Look at the first spec: love is patient. That lets us know that if we are living in love, we will be seeing patience. But what if we see impatience instead? That is also helpful. It means an adjustment is necessary – not that we need to try harder but that we need to come to God in trust and possibly repentance, so that love can start flowing again.

The same thing works for each of these actions listed. Love acts kindly. That is an operating spec. If I am living in love as I was designed to do, I can expect kindness to be part of my life. On the other hand, if I am easily angered or am keeping a record of the wrongs, that is an indication that I have moved out of love and adjustments need to be made.
Can you see how helpful this could be? Continue reading

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Love: It’s not a Matter of Trying Harder

That way follows a well-worn path to hypocrisy and apathy. 1 Corinthians 13 is not about what we should be doing. There is no “should” about it.

Grammarians describe “should,” “would,” and “could” words as subjunctive mood verbs. In verses one through three, where Paul describes the lengths to which someone might go to be an honorable person, there are ten subjunctive mood verbs. This is the try harder section. But where that leads – to the conviction (verse 2) that “I am nothing” and, (verse 3) that “I gain nothing” is not where we want to go.

In the next section, which runs from verse 4 through verse 8 and contains a description of love, there is not a single subjunctive mood verb. What does that mean? It means that here Paul is not telling us what we should do but what love does do. When we read this as if Paul is telling us to dig deep and be more patient, be more kind, less envious, less angry, we only succeed in frustrating ourselves—and frustrated people do not love well.

When, later in this letter, Paul tells the Corinthians to “Do everything in love” (1 Cor. 16:14), he is not saying, “Be more loving!” He is telling them to enter into love and do what they do from there. When he tells the Galatians to “serve one another in love” (Gal. 5:13), it’s the same kind of thing. It is not, “Try harder to be loving,” as if we can manufacture love, but “Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 1:21). Since “love comes from God” (I John 4:7) and not from us, “digging deep” usually only leaves us in a hole. We need to go to the source of love. We need to go to God. Continue reading

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How Can I Talk with Others About Faith?

Do you have friends and family you’d like to talk to about your faith? A good place to start is with talking to God about your friends and family. Ask him for opportunities to speak with them. If that is … Continue reading

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The Right Kind of Answer to Skeptics’ Questions

My friend Amy Snapp started coming to Lockwood years ago. Her sister Cindy had been bringing Amy’s daughter Kathryn to our kids ministry. Because Kathryn liked it, Amy started coming and bringing the younger kids too. But dad Glenn was … Continue reading

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Direct Evangelism and Responsive Evangelism

This is the Apostle Peter. “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be … Continue reading

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Do We All Need to Be Evangelists?

Every Christ-follower needs to be able to speak on behalf of Christ but not every Christ-follower is an evangelist. Most local churches have some evangelists among their people – Lockwood certainly does – but not everyone is an evangelist nor … Continue reading

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