Category Archives: Church

Up, Up, but not Away: The Ascension of Jesus (2)

When Jesus was crucified, his followers despaired. When he was raised, they were astounded. They realized that something phenomenally important had happened, but they didn’t realize where it would lead. They did not understand that they were living in a … Continue reading

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The Church: Deconstructing or Deteriorating?

Today, many Christians, especially those under 40, are asking tough questions about the faith. They are questioning assumptions taught by, or caught from, their parents. This is particularly true of assumptions regarding sexuality and racial justice. The process is known … Continue reading

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“I Believe in the Forgiveness of Sins”

Many people find the extravagant breadth of Christian forgiveness objectionable. Should even Hitler, if he has expressed “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,” be forgiven? What about the sexual predator? The murderer?

I have had to be clear about this in my own mind. The forgiveness of sins is easy enough to believe when you are sitting in a church pew. It is another matter when you are sitting in a jail cell with a man accused of molesting a two-year-old child or a woman who shot her sleeping husband and then decapitated him so she could be with another man. In such situations, could I honestly say that I believe in the forgiveness of sins?

Yes. I have been able to believe in the forgiveness of sins – even in those cells – because I believe in the God of Jesus. I am, however, in doubt about whether the people I came to see believed. They didn’t stop making excuses long enough for me to find out, but people who believe in the forgiveness of sins make confession, not excuses. 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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“Woke” Culture and a Righteousness of Our Own

In our day as in Paul’s, people try to establish a righteousness of their own. In fact, we live in what might be the most self-righteous moment in western history. So much of the impetus behind the “woke” movement is … Continue reading

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A Vision for the Church

More than 20 years ago, a group of Lockwood leaders attended a conference together in the Chicago area. One of the keynote speakers urged church leaders to write a vision statement – what their church will look like as it conforms to God’s will for them. We came home and set about working on a vision statement.

Vision statements were all the rage back then. I know a pastor who undertook the same exercise and, when he was done, had a vision of a new church building, with a beautiful fountain adorning the grounds.

We had no vision of what the church building or grounds would look like. We had no vision of staff positions or programming. I’m not saying that God doesn’t give such visions; to some congregations he might but he did not give them to us. Continue reading

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Telling the Good News: Right Words, Wrong Life?

It is natural, when we are telling people the good news, to want to make sure we have all the right words – it makes us feel safer. But having the right words won’t help if we’re living the wrong life! A life with God that is authentic and satisfying is what provide opportunities.

I’ll mention three characteristics of that kind of life. (There are of course more.) First, it is genuinely optimistic. This is not a Pollyanna, turn a blind eye, kind of thing. This is a life of hope built on the certainty that God will make things right. God is so much a part of the hopeful life that it is inexplicable apart from him. If your life can be explained without recourse to God, you’re too much like everyone else.

The authentic God-filled life is also a connected life. Connectedness is largely missing in our society. Over the past few decades, social scientists have consistently found “slippages in self-confidence, growing regrets about the past, and declines in virtually every measure of self-reported physical and mental health … regardless of gender, age, marital status, and educational attainment.” This in one of the world’s wealthiest nations.

Studies have found that this unhappiness is rooted in a failure to connect. Here’s how one sociologist summarized it: “Americans over the past several decades became increasingly detached from family and friends …. There is indeed a large body of evidence indicating that social connectedness … has a powerful influence on self-reported health and happiness.”

It was God who said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” We understand that, but we don’t know what to do about it. Jesus does. He offers a connected life. If we are living that life, connected by dozens and dozens of threads to our church family, we will have opportunities to tell others the good news.
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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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