Exploring a Potpourri of Biblical Ideas and Godly Living

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 31 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “Eric Metaxas: Conservative Christian Author.”

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Eric Metaxas was born June 27, 1963 in Queens, New York, New York. He attended Yale University, and graduated in 1984 with a B.A. in English. Although he was raised in the Greek Orthodox Church, he has most recently attended the Central Presbyterian Church on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Metaxas is a prolific author, with publications written for children as well as adults. Unfortunately–in my view–he seems to have also taken a hard-right political stance in recent years. Since I am a dedicated centrist, both in political and religious ideas, I was quite disappointed to learn of his forceful positions in some of the current controversial issues of our day.

That being said, however, I have been greatly edified by several of his major books. I’ll share some thoughts about that as we work our way through the podcast today.

I first became acquainted with Mr. Metaxas’ work through a subscription I had several years ago with I was searching for a good biography when I came across his book Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World. I thought it looked pretty interesting, so I used part of my bank of Audible credits to purchase the audio edition. I could only listen 15-20 minutes a day, so it took me a long time to finish! However, as I listened I knew I needed a hard copy of this book on my library shelf so I could easily refer to the contents later. I gladly headed over to Amazon to place my order.

Later, I also downloaded and listened to two more of Metaxas’ biographies: Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery, and Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, plus several of his smaller publications.

Most recently I saw an advertisement for his newest book—Is Atheism Dead—and ordered a hard copy. I’m currently about a fourth of the way through it. I’ll say more about that in a bit.

But now, what I want to do is take you on a quick survey of those larger books I mentioned. I’ll talk about each of them, one at a time, in the order I read them originally, although the publication order is different.

(BTW, if you click on the pictures of the individual books the link will take you directly to that book’s info page on Amazon.)

Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World

This book was released in 2017 in the 500th anniversary year of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany.

Because I grew up in a Protestant church I was very aware of Martin Luther’s story at an early age. The preachers in our pulpit often talked about his “Here I stand” appearance before the Diet at Worms, extolling his courage, integrity, and faithfulness to the Bible as the only legitimate “rule of faith and practice” for Christians. Staying true to one’s conscience was high on our church family’s list of core values.

After graduating from high school, I chose a path in education that would prepare me for Christian ministry. Subsequently, over many years I accumulated a B.A. in Theology, a Master of Divinity (MDiv), and a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree. All of those courses included requisite classes in church history—and specifically people and events surrounding the Protestant Reformation.

However, listening to Metaxas’ audio book on Luther I discovered fascinating details about the great Reformer, and the Reformation itself, that I had never known previously. The author is a master of pulling together a universe of data, anecdotes, historical records, personalities, and myriads of other details, weaving everything together into what I found to be a compelling telling of a most pivotal moment in history.

If you—like me—enjoy a long book with a powerful true story which literally changed the course of history for millions of people, you owe it to yourself to check out Metaxas’ biography of Martin Luther. Yes, it is long—451 pages, not including the endnotes, detailed bibliography, and complete index.

And, there is an Appendix with the story of a prophetic dream (supposedly) experienced by Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony, on the morning of October 31, 1517 the very day Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the church door. I don’t have space to tell you the story here, but it is truly amazing if it actually happened. Do an Internet search for “Frederick of Saxony’s Dream,” and you can find it easily. The story of the dream is not long, but—if true—very significant!

Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery

If it were not for William Wilberforce, a Member of the British Parliament who lived from 1759-1833, the scourge of legal slavery could still be a reality—even to our time today.

Slavery was an ever-present fact of life in every culture throughout human history. The ancient Wonders of the World—places like the Pyramids of Egypt, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Great Wall of China, Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, and the Roman roads extending from one end of the Empire to the other—all were built on the backs of slaves.

Wilberforce began life as a nominal Christian, but in 1785 at age 26 he experienced a personal conversion which changed his life forever. He had been elected to Parliament five years earlier in 1780, but after his spiritual awakening he became an evangelical Christian which precipitated many changes to the way he lived. His newfound faith drove him to seek and institute social reforms that were desperately needed in late-18th century England.

William became most focused and passionate about the innate cruelty and abhorrent realities of the then-current slave trade. He labored intensely for many years in Parliament to get slavery outlawed in Britain. It didn’t come easily. All the momentum of many millennia in which slavery was just a fact of life everywhere pushed hard against his efforts.

To illustrate the horrors of the slave trade, Wilberforce commissioned and published drawings of actual conditions aboard British ships.

Diagram of the Cargo Deck
of a
Sixteenth-century Slave Ship

Previously, those who defended slavery contended that life for the slaves was much improved over life in the jungles of Africa. When these drawings appeared in publications read by the general public, the outcry was so great that Parliament was forced to act. They passed the “Slave Trade Act of 1807,” but it was another 26 years before the “Slavery Abolition Act of 1833” was passed. Wilberforce died just 3 days after seeing the success of his life-long crusade against slavery become a reality.

It took another 32 years, but the United States eventually followed Britain’s lead. In 1863 President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and in 1865 the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was passed and signed into law, forever abolishing the institution of slavery as a legal practice in America.

The godly influence of one man’s life changed the world forever. William Wilberforce truly made a difference for millions of people in his lifetime. The world is a better place because he was here.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

In my book My Seven Essential Daily Prayers, I included a chapter for the third prayer, “Integrity in My Life.” Toward the end of that chapter I wrote about choosing a life’s motto which, in addition to providing a theme for day-to-day living, could also be used as an epitaph for my grave marker–assuming my family would deem it appropriate.

What I eventually came up with was Vivere Cum Integritas, a Latin phrase meaning “To Live With Integrity.”

Reading Eric Metaxas’ biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I got the feeling that here was a man for whom integrity was an absolute core life value. He lived by his conscience, and in the end it cost him his life.

Bonhoeffer was extremely gifted intellectually. He saw through the weaselly hypocrisy of German Christians supporting Hitler, and helped form a “Confessing Church” in opposition to the “official” German Christian church.

During the war years he taught underground seminary classes, and worked tirelessly to both oppose the excesses of the regime and still preserve the true faith of German believers as they had received it from Martin Luther and other Reformers.

At one point when it seemed he was in the greatest danger, he fled to New York where he had briefly studied several years earlier. However, he felt so anxious for the condition of things back in Germany he only stayed in the States for a short time. He went back to minister to those who needed him in the middle of the Nazi terror.

Things were so bad that their only hope was the removal of Der Fuhrer. A bombing attempt to assassinate Hitler failed, and the individuals involved in the plot were tracked down and imprisoned. Bonhoeffer was one of the conspirators. He spent a year and a half in prison, and was executed by hanging on April 9, 1945 by order of Hitler himself.

Three days later, the prison where he died was liberated by Allied forces. Germany surrendered, ending WWII in the European theater May 8, 1945.

But it was too late for Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He died a martyr’s death, yet the influence of his life lives on. His book The Cost of Discipleship has become one of the greatest classics of Christian literature.

Is Atheism Dead?

This is Metaxas’ most recent book. As I write/record this, I am about halfway through reading it.

(BTW, I discontinued my Audible account several months ago. I discovered I get far more pleasure out of holding a physical book, turning pages as I read. Listening works just fine for many people. But, I seem to be a reader more than a listener. If listening works for you, go for it! The important thing is consuming information—in whatever way is best for your needs.)

Quite frankly, I wasn’t too impressed with the first section of this book where he talks about the “fine-tuning” of nature, from the entire Universe to molecular phenomena here on Earth. My objection wasn’t so much about the data he described as it was his (to me) seemingly flippant attitude toward scientists who see things differently. Metaxas often presents as “scientific fact” information or ideas that are only at the hypothetical stage of exploration. And, beyond that, he uses a very casual writing style—including some colloquialisms that don’t reflect the importance of the subject matter. At least, that was my impression.

Nevertheless, he does present some astounding thoughts very few people have even considered. These are very valuable to his overall argument. I just wish he would have written them in a more professional tone.

That being said, as I have progressed further in the book, I’ve found it much improved—to my way of thinking! The second section on archeology is fascinating. The stories of “accidental” discoveries and coincidences are amazing. I especially enjoyed the accounts of how the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Silver Ketef Hinnom Scrolls came to light. If you’re not familiar with these stories I’d encourage you to do an Internet search and read about them. There are many others as well.

Or . . . here’s a thought–you might even have to order this book! Of course, you don’t have to buy it from Amazon. Any other outlet—online or local—can get it for you, as well as any of the other books I’ve shared in this post.

Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode — “Favorite Christmas Stories.”

Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you!

If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!

God bless.

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 30 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “What Was Nailed to the Cross?”

This is an important question worthy of our attention for a few minutes.

In the history of the Christian church, some have taught that it was the Old Testament law—including Ten Commandments— that was nailed to the Cross, while others have said, “No, it was only the Old Testament ceremonial laws that were nailed to the Cross, because Jesus fulfilled all of those as the sacrificial ‘Lamb of God.’”

We’ll answer that question in today’s Bible study. But, first we need to set the background to give our understanding some depth and perspective.

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The idea of something being “nailed to the cross” is an expression Paul used in his letter to the church at Colossae, written around AD 60-62 while he was a prisoner in Rome.

Colossae was a metropolis in the Roman province of Asia (not to be confused with continent of Asia we know today). It was about 1300 miles away from Rome in what is now modern-day Turkey. There is no indication in the New Testament that Paul ever personally visited Colossae, however the church there was probably planted as fruit of his ministry all through Asia Minor—or Anatolia, as the region was also known.

Paul was greatly concerned that the church—regardless of location or history—would maintain purity of the gospel message—the supremacy of Christ, salvation by grace through faith in him, with no mixture of pagan or outside philosophies or theologies.

Word arrived to Paul in Rome that some dangerous false teachings were invading the church at Colossae. The content of these false doctrines seems to be a mixture of old-line Judaistic legalism with a type of oriental paganism. The teachers of these heresies believed in an organization of angels who brought human beings to salvation through merits earned by strictly following correct worship forms.

In Judaistic legalism, salvation was based on strict obedience to all the Judaic laws. God’s favor, they believed, could only be obtained by human works of righteousness. IOW, the forms of religion were more important than faith and the fruit of the Spirit.

In Galatians 5:22, Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

To those Jews who also claimed to be followers of Christ, obeying all the rules was paramount. Having the fruit of the Spirit present and manifested in one’s life was beside the point.

Also, some of these Colossian believers were teaching that Christ (as God) could not have come to earth as a true human being in bodily form because, they believed, that matter is evil. Based on that erroneous idea, they taught that God did not create the world because he would not have created evil. In their mistaken views, they saw Christ as just one of many intermediaries between God and the people.

Paul knew that these ideas of earning salvation by human efforts had to be stopped immediately. He lifted his pen—so to speak—and began drafting his letter.

The first thing Paul addressed was the true identity and nature of Jesus.

He wrote:

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.”

Colossians 1:15-20

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah made it abundantly clear that human (so-called) “good” works are worthless as credit for our moral fitness for heaven. He writes, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6).

Now notice the context of Paul’s statement in Colossians about what was nailed to the cross:

“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14).

So, here’s a quick “Q & A”:

  • Q: What was nailed to the cross?
  • A: The “handwriting of requirements that was against us.”
  • Q: What is this “handwriting?”
  • A: The documentation of our “trespasses,” i.e. the record of our sins!

Let’s remember that both Colossae and Jerusalem were cities in the Roman Empire. The laws of the Empire governed all society throughout the entire territory. The courts were conducted according to Roman law. We get a glimpse of that in the gospel story of Jesus’s trial, conviction, and crucifixion.

With this in mind, it is helpful to know the practices and processes of Roman jurisprudence in the trial of an accused criminal.

Paul wrote his letter in koine Greek, of course—the common language of the entire territory previously occupied by the Grecian Empire. The Greek word for “document” is “dogmasin,” which is rendered in the New Living Translation as “the record of charges against us.”

In the Roman court system, when a person was charged and convicted of an offense, a “dogmasin” was prepared to document the outcome, including the verdict and the sentence for punishment.

This “dogmasin”—a legal document—contained four pieces of information:

  1. The criminal’s name
  2. The offense
  3. The punishment
  4. The name of the presiding judge

At the end of the trial, the judge would sign his name to the “dogmasin,” then give it to the court guards. The guards escorted the prisoner—now a convicted criminal—to the public square, where the “dogmasin” was nailed to a designated post. The prisoner was tied to the post for punishment—e.g. “forty lashes”—as specified in the “dogmasin.”

The message Paul writes to the Colossian believers saying we were [as good as] “dead in our trespasses” i.e. “sins,” is that both figurative and literally Christ took our “dogmasin” away from our post of punishment and nailed it TO HIS OWN CROSS. Christ “canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us . . . having nailed it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:14).

Paul then summarizes his teaching with this admonition:

“So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or [ceremonial] sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.”

Colossians 2:16-17

Note: There is no substance in a shadow. Eternal life is in Christ, NOT in the FORM or PRACTICE of religion.

Now, before I leave this subject I want to steer your thoughts to the biblical prophetic symbol for compromise, exalted human accomplishments, and outright rebellion against God’s rule of light, love, mercy, and grace. That symbol is the antithesis of godliness. It is embodied in “Babylon the Great”—the powerful harlot of Revelation—who has seduced every nation, indeed every descendant of Adam and Eve since the beginning of sin’s presence on Earth.

We start with the message of the Second Angel in Revelation 14.

“Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”

Revelation 14:8

For context, let me note that this message follows directly after the First Angel—who has “the everlasting gospel,” and proclaims a clarion call to worship the Creator of everything.

Babylonianism compromises and corrupts that principle of true godliness. Human achievements are mixed in with gospel grace to somehow supplement our qualifications for salvation. But the Scriptures are abundantly clear: Sinners are saved by grace alone through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on Calvary’s cross.

Period. Full stop. End of story.

The Second Angel announces, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen,” repeating the expression twice.

In the Old Testament we find two incidents of Babylon’s destruction—both times by God’s intervention.

The first was at the Tower of Babel. You can find that story in Genesis 10, where post-Flood people attempted to “build a tower” on the Plain of Shinar to “make a name for themselves,” and to reach heaven using their own skills, and resources.

Then, centuries later under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II, the Neo-Babylonian Empire flourished and grew to immense size. The capitol city—Babylon, with its incredible hanging gardens—was even listed as one of the ancient “Seven Wonders of the World.” Don’t miss the fact that both the city and the empire were built on Babylonianism—glorifying human pride and accomplishment.

When we examine foundations of Mystic Babylon, “Babylon the Great” in Revelation, we discover that same mixture in the realm of the spirit. She—Babylon the Great—inspires human beings to think they can, or must, contribute something in order to be saved for heaven.

But, listen again to Paul’s warning in Colossians 2:8.

“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”

Colossians 2:8

Then notice that only a few verses later where Paul refers to the “handwriting of requirements that was against us.” He says that Christ “has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (v.14).

I’ll conclude with what I said earlier. Eternal life is in Christ, not in the form or practice of religion, nor in any action, obedience, or our feeble attempts at law-keeping.

The FRUIT of righteousness is produced by the NATURE of each person re-created into the image of Christ. (See 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Jesus has claimed our incriminating “dogmasin” as his own, removing the entire record of our sinfulness—along with the guilt it carries—and “in his own body” nailed it to his cross.

And, we are free!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’m going to share about another author I have enjoyed recently. Eric Metaxas has written several large biographies of historic influential people, plus other smaller books, articles, and stories. If you are not already acquainted with his writing, I think you will enjoy learning about his life and ministry.

Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you!

If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 29 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “The Kingdom of God.”

Today’s episode is Part VI of the six-part series, “Studies in Romans: Saved by Grace, Powered by Love.”

Last week I built on the central theme of our last few episodes:

“The purpose of a temple is to glorify the deity that dwells within.”

Our bodies, Paul says, become a temple for God’s residence through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. This is one of the core concepts of his writing all through the New Testament. As a “temple” for God’s Spirit, we must choose—as Paul instructs—to “present our body as a living sacrifice,” and to “be transformed by the renewing of our mind.” (See Romans 12:1-2)

In his second general letter to all believers, the Apostle Peter underscores what Paul has said, then ends his epistle with these words:

“[Keep on] grow[ing] in grace and knowledge of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”

2 Peter 3:18 NIV

Today we’ll explore some thoughts about growing in grace and what it means to be citizens of God’s holy people—a spiritual nation governed by the law of agápe love.

To listen to the audio podcast, click HERE.

As citizens of God’s Kingdom—transformed into the likeness of Christ—we move from being “shame-based” to “grace-based.”

Let’s look at that idea for a bit.

In Romans thus far, we’ve seen that all human beings are sinners by nature—Adam’s fallen nature—but all are also justified by God’s forgiveness and grace expressed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul clearly teaches here in Romans that “the just shall live by faith,” and that “nothing can separate us from God’s love.” To enter into this saving, life-giving relationship with the Source of life and love, we willingly present our bodies and minds for the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. In our person, then, we serve as living temples for the glory of God—our Creator and King. With God’s residence in our heart as his temple, we continuously grow in grace, gaining victory power to overcome evil with good. Our spiritual base is changed from shame to grace.

We had no control or choice about our physical birth. We were all born into Adam’s flesh.

Pause for a moment and look at your hands. Consider their appearance and how they feel as you put them together. Then, realize that this flesh is Adam’s flesh. If we believe the biblical story of Creation—which I do—then we understand that through the miracles of procreation, generation after generation, Adam’s flesh—his nature—has been passed down across all the centuries to us.

Jesus told Nicodemus,

“I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

John 3:5-8 NLT

When we are “born again” of the Spirit, we move from shame-based life to grace-based life. Since agápe love and grace are the hallmarks of God’s Kingdom—along with perfect justice—the entire orientation of living changes. Our very nature is changed by the Resident God!

Paul writes,

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve God with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.”

Romans 14:17-18 NLT

And from the Gospel of Luke:

“When [Jesus] was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Luke 17:20-21

From these verses we catch a hint that the Kingdom of God is entirely different than the kingdoms and governments of the world. Every worldly government from time immemorial has been about dominance, protectionism, human achievement, and economic prosperity gained at the expense of the weak.

In direct opposition to the nature and goals of the the world stands the Kingdom of God—a nation of priests, a kingdom of love and service, and a foundational philosophy of sacrificial giving.

In Matthew 6, Jesus is recorded as teaching,

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:19-21

At the end of this passage, Jesus summarizes the lesson, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

Let’s go back for a moment to Paul’s statement I referenced a bit ago, found in Romans 14:17-18.

Paul describes the essence of God’s kingdom as being “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” He continues, declaring that a person who serves Christ in this way is “acceptable to God and approved by men.”

Paul then follows with this admonition: “Therefore, let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Romans 14:19).
He continues in this vein through the concluding chapters of the book. Here are several examples:

Romans 15:5-6 — “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Romans 15:13, 33 — “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. . . . Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”

And as a final benediction:

“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began, but now made manifest, and by the prophetic scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God for obedience to the faith—to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen” (Romans 16:25-27).

All this that we see in Romans is echoed in the writings of all the other New Testament writers. In the series, I’ve already referenced Peter, for example. Another is the Apostle John.

In his advanced years, John lived in Ephesus, the coastal town on the shores of the Aegean Sea in what is now modern-day Turkey. Around AD 85-90, John probably would have been very close to 80 years old then. In his elder years he was held in great esteem by all the Christian believers. He was, after all, probably the only living survivor of the 12 original disciples of Jesus. A full generation of new people had joined the church by then.

Many errant ideas had begun floating around among the body of believers, including speculative falsehoods about the nature of Jesus. Some said he was God, but not really a human being like everyone else. Others said he was just a man whose followers had elevated to the status of deity.

To counteract these heresies, John prepared a letter to send to all the churches. We have that letter preserved in our New Testament as “1 John.” It was followed later with a second, then a third letter from the ancient disciple.

(BTW, all three letters were written before John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos, where he received the vision of the Revelation.)

In 1 John, the author asserts his authority as an eye-witness to testify about Jesus, whom he personally knew, followed as a disciple, saw die on the cross of Calvary, and ate fish with him even after the resurrection. John’s message established that the kingdom of God was unlike any other kingdom on earth. Instead of being a kingdom of power and force, John described God’s kingdom being founded on light, love, and life.

In chapter 1, verse 7 he writes, “If we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.”

In chapter 4, verse 16, he says, “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”

And, in chapter 5, verses 11-12, we read, “This is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s son does not have life.”

The Holy Spirit invites us today to take our place as citizens of the heavenly kingdom. If we are followers/disciples of Christ, then our very life must be a testimony of his character—governed by the eternal principles of light, love, and life. The lesson couldn’t be any more clear: from the perspective of eternity, affairs of this life which sometimes threaten to overwhelm us, are, in fact, pretty unimportant. Instead of becoming embroiled in the controversies swirling around us on every side, God offers his “peace that passes all understanding.”

Trusting fully in God’s salvation, the new creation of our lives, agápe love, and his amazing grace, let us stand tall as witnesses for him, living sober, righteous, and godly lives for his honor and glory. Let us live in such a way that we really do glorify the deity that dwells within our body temple!


Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed. I especially hope you have been blessed, encouraged, and perhaps even inspired by the thoughts I’ve shared on this little series of studies in the Book of Romans. I would really encourage you to find a New Living Translation of the New Testament and spend some serious study time going verse-by-verse through this letter from the Apostle Paul. It is his most important theological treatise, and is essentially the central core of New Testament doctrines. I guarantee your faith will grow as you prayerfully consider the truths contained in this book.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’m going to take a look at the question “What was Nailed to the Cross?”

Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you!

If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!

God bless.

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 28 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “Living Sacrifices.”

Today’s episode is Part V of the six-part series, “Studies in Romans: Saved by Grace, Powered by Love.”

Last week I shared the concept of the “Resident God” moving from the Wilderness Tabernacle to Solomon’s Temple to the re-built “Second” Temple to the Word in human flesh to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the heart of every believer. This provided the groundwork for understanding Paul’s teaching that followers of Jesus must live for his glory.

Today, we’ll move into the next few chapters where Paul talks about presenting our bodies as “living sacrifices” to God—which he says is our “reasonable service” (Romans 12:1 KJV).

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast at

But, as we begin, let’s glance back at the road we’ve traveled since the beginning of this series

  • Man is a sinner, saved by grace.
  • The just shall live by faith.
  • There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
  • If God is for us, who can be against us?
  • Nothing can separate us from God’s love.

Here is our base text for this study:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:1-2

You might want to open your Bible to that passage as we continue. Also, as we work our way through this study, keep in mind the theme we are following that . . . .

“The purpose of a temple is to glorify the deity that dwells within.”

So, Paul’s appeal to present our “bodies as a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God” is directly related to the Holy Spirit dwelling within our spiritual heart. God—in the person of the Holy Spirit—lives in YOU, the temple of His presence in the world today. You are the carrier of divine love into the streets of chaos, confusion, conflict, and crying needs. To that end you are His ambassador to those who do not yet understand the Kingdom of grace. You reveal God to the world through your life and conduct. As someone once said, “You may be the only Jesus someone ever sees.”

The second item in Paul’s appeal is for believers to “not be conformed to this world,” but to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2).

Again, what is the purpose this counsel? Paul is clear: “That you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” In other words, in order to rightly represent God (the Deity who dwells within our body temple) and His Kingdom, we need to experience an ongoing renewal of not only bodies, but also our mental abilities and our knowledge of His truth.

I’ll talk more about that in just a moment. Before we go there, however, we need to explore what Paul means when he says we need to be “transformed.”

To be “transformed” means we are changed from something we were previously into something new.

In electricity, for example, a transformer changes the voltage between an incoming circuit and an outgoing circuit. The power in lines servicing an entire region or community is far too strong for individual homes, or even industrial facilities. To be safe and useful it has to be reduced—changed—“transformed” into a lower energy level. At the appropriate strength for the local application the power can then be used as needed.

Paul says we must not be “conformed” to this world, but be “transformed” by the renewing of our minds.

To be “con-formed” to the world means we take on the ideas, attitudes, philosophies, and practices of social standards which often do not honor God.

Basically, what we could say is that conforming to the world is just doing what comes “naturally.” We are all born into Adam’s flesh. By nature we have a predisposition to self-centeredness—an orientation towards sinful thinking and sinful living.

But, when Christ comes into our lives—by our invitation and freewill choice—we become transformed over time more and more into the spiritual image of Jesus. Paul writes, We . . . are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

As we are transformed we become conformed to the be like Jesus. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be *conformed to the likeness of his Son*” (Romans 8:29).

The transformation of our character entails two parts—God’s part, and our part.

God’s part is His provision for salvation and redemption—the gift of eternal life—to every son and daughter of Adam.

Our part is (a) to believe His promise, (b) accept His gift, and (c) act on our belief in faith.

That is the beginning. Following our conversion we enter a life-long journey of growing in God’s grace through the renewal of our minds. To that end we need to study, learn, and expand our knowledge of God and His Kingdom of love and grace.

Here are some practical admonishments from Paul to the Roman believers to help them in their daily journey of growing in grace (See Romans 12:9-21):

  1. Really love others – don’t just pretend to love them.
  2. Hate what is wrong.
  3. Hold tightly to what is good.
  4. Love each other with genuine affection.
  5. Take delight in honoring each other.
  6. Don’t be lazy.
  7. Work hard.
  8. Serve the Lord enthusiastically.
  9. Rejoice in hope.
  10. Be patient in trouble.
  11. Keep on praying
  12. Be eager to practice hospitality
  13. Bless those who persecute you.
  14. Pray that God will bless your persecutors.
  15. Rejoice with those who rejoice.
  16. Weep with those who weep.
  17. Live in harmony with each other.
  18. Enjoy the company of ordinary people
  19. Never pay back evil for evil.
  20. Act honorably in everything you do or say.
  21. Live in peace with everyone as much as possible.
  22. Never take revenge.
  23. Feed your enemies if they are hungry.
  24. Give your enemies something to drink if they are thirsty.
  25. Don’t let evil conquer you.
  26. Conquer evil by doing good.

WOW! What an incredible list is that! At least 26 commands from Paul in 13 verses—I may possibly have missed a couple, too!

What we see here is Paul teaching the Roman believers—and us—how we need to conduct our lives so that the Deity who dwells within our body temple will be glorified!

I can’t help but think of the many, many stories of individuals through the centuries whose lives testify of God’s transforming power. Not only people whose lives are mentioned or detailed in the Bible, but also countless saints from the time of Christ until now.

In the New Testament story, Paul himself was changed from persecuting, self-righteous Pharisee to an ambassador of grace and God’s agápe love.

Peter was changed from the impetuous, rough fisherman to a powerful preacher of hope, and a humble counselor of faithful courage.

James and John were changed from “sons of thunder” to peaceful advocates for truth in loving relationships.

There are dozens of others, of course whose stories could be cited. In addition, over the course of 20 centuries since the time of Jesus, literally millions of lives around the world have been changed—transformed—by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

And, by the grace of God, I also can add my name to that list.

In my younger years my life was a stream of continuous hypocrisy. In Revelation 3:9 Jesus has a scathing rebuke for those who make a profession of being something they are not. That was me. I look back on those years now in shame. How grateful I am for the love, acceptance, mercy, and forgiveness of God!

God described Himself to Moses, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and sin” (Exodus 34:6).

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).

Through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence, we can move from shame-based living to grace-based living. In our body-temple, as priests of the new covenant, we can represent man to God through intercessory prayer, and we can represent God to man by living godly lives for His glory, and by serving the needs of others in the Name of Jesus.

And, that’s really no sacrifice at all.


Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll share Part VI—the concluding episode—of this special six-part series on the Book of Romans. Next week’s title is “The Kingdom of God.” In that study we’ll explore Paul’s teaching in Romans 14-16 as he finishes writing to the church in the heart of the empire.

Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you!

If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!

God bless.

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 27 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “Romans, Part IV: Living for Jesus.”

Today’s episode is Part IV of the six-part series, “Studies in Romans: Saved by Grace, Powered by Love.”

Last week we explored the Apostle Paul’s teaching on God as the Master Bridge-builder, spanning the gap between fallen man and himself. We also saw how we as believers are also called to build bridges of healthy relationships with others so we can bring unsaved people to Jesus.

Today, we’ll move into the next few chapters where Paul talks about living the Christian life as witnesses to the grace of God.

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast at

In summary for our series to this point, here are a few notes:

All human beings are sinners—but are fully justified by God’s amazing grace.

Justification (i.e. “righteousness) is accounted to all who believe and receive God’s gift of new life in Christ.

Love builds bridges. Jesus is our “bridge” to God the Father. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God [the Father] made [Christ] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

By accepting God’s gift of righteousness by faith, we are “born again” into God’s family. We become citizens of His heavenly Kingdom, and are commissioned as ambassadors for His Kingdom of love and grace.

With those basic truths in mind, let’s dive a little deeper into how all this works. To fulfill our incredible role as ambassadors—God’s witnesses—we must draw wisdom, power, and courage from His abiding presence in our very lives, empowering us to serve and accomplish His the purposes He ordains.

The Resident God

Consider the idea of a “Resident God.”

In the drama of the biblical Exodus, as God meets with Moses on Mt. Sinai, the Lord tells him, “Let them (the Israelites) make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).

“Jeba Musa”
The Traditional Mt. Sinai
The Wilderness Tabernacle

Let’s stop for a moment and think about the enormity of that instruction. Here we have YHWH, the Great God of all Creation, instructing human beings to prepare a tent home for Him because He wants to live next door! Incredible! The Maker and Ruler of the entire Universe says He wants to camp right in the middle of all the tents in the Israelite campsite! He gives specific instructions for materials to be used, dimensions, visiting hours, and priestly responsibilities. There are specific—and rigid—requirements for the neighborhood like cleanliness, order, etc., but the message is clear: God wants to be near His chosen people, and the best way to do that in this moment is live in a tent with them in their city of tents.

Fast-forward a few hundred years. The wilderness tabernacle still serves as the meeting place between God and Israel. But, as with all material things, the 400-year-old tent is looking pretty tattered, simply because it’s been around for a long, long time.

King David gets an idea: Build a permanent temple as God’s house! Of course, as we read Old Testament history, we know that it was David’s son, King Solomon, who was able to fulfill his father’s dream. The scenes describing the dedication of “Solomon’s Temple” in 1 Kings 8 tell of God’s entrance into the holy place:

“And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.”

1 Kings 8:10-11

Now, instead of a tent-home the Lord has a permanent “house” in which to live among His people.

An Artist’s Rendition of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem

Sadly, over the next few centuries the people fell into apostasy, and YHWH abandoned the Jerusalem temple. He allowed the pagan Babylonians to attack and destroy the city—including the temple—and remove most of the population away from their “promised land.”

In God’s providence, however, Jerusalem was rebuilt, and another temple constructed. And, once again the “resident God” graciously recognized the heart’s desire of those who built it out of their love, dedication, and sacrifice. It wasn’t as ornate or physically more glorious than Solomon’s temple, but God promised this second temple would be more blessed than the first.

That promise was fulfilled in the person of Jesus who walked in this temple and ministered in its precincts. But, in fact, as we look at Jesus we discover that God is moving ever closer to us.

John writes, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Jesus of Nazareth was, in fact, the Word—the Second Person of the Godhead—in human flesh. Now, instead of merely living in a tent next door, or in a temple built with hands, the I AM has moved into Adam’s flesh and blood. He has become one of us, not just a divine neighbor, but an actual member of our race!

But wait! There’s more!

In Romans 8:9 Paul indicates that the Spirit of God “dwells in you.” The “resident God” takes up residence—by the presence of the Holy Spirit—in the heart of every believer!

When writing to the Colossian church, Paul also speaks of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

Thus, we can witness the progression of God’s “residence” with Adam’s race—from the wilderness tabernacle, to the temples in Jerusalem, to the person of Jesus present among us, to the Holy Spirit living and dwelling in the heart of every believer.

Because of this, Paul accurately describes our bodies as temples.

“Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

The Purpose of a Temple

From this teaching by Paul, we can understand a rather obvious truth:

The Purpose of a Temple
is to
Glorify the Deity
that dwells within

Peter elaborates on this metaphor in his first epistle: “You . . . as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).

I really like the way this verse is rendered in the New Living Translation: “You are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God” (1 Peter 2:5 NLT).

The “spiritual sacrifices” Peter is talking about is the testimony/record of our life as followers of Jesus.

Back to Romans, Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes . . . For in [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:16-17).

Let’s break down what Paul means.

The just shall live by faith.”

Who are “the just?” They are all who believe and receive God’s promise.

“The just shall live by faith.”

Paul’s message here is that believers will live pro-actively engaged with the world around them vs. reactively. They will touch the lives of others with God’s love whenever possible instead of allowing “the world” to control their thoughts, words, or actions.

“The just shall live by faith.

Faith is an integral part of life. You cannot NOT have faith. Where you place your faith determines your life.

Let’s talk some more about living for Jesus by faith. Paul has a lot to say about this in chapters 6-8.

(6:8) Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.

(6:13-14) Present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God, for sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

(8:1) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

(8:11) If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

(8:31) If God is for us, who can be against us?

(8:38) I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The words of an old hymn seem to fit perfectly as we bring today’s episode to a close.

Living for Jesus
Thomas O. Chisolm (1917)

Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do,
Yielding allegiance glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me!

O Jesus, Lord and Savior,
I give myself to Thee,
For Thou in Thine atonement,
Didst give Thyself for me.
I own no other master,
My heart shall be Thy throne!
My life I give henceforth to live
O Christ, for Thee alone.

Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll share Part V of this special six-part series on the Book of Romans. Next week’s title is “Living Sacrifices.” In that study we’ll explore Paul’s teaching in Romans 12:1 where he writes, “I beseech you therefore brethern, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you!

If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!

God bless.

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 26 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “Romans, Part III: Love Can Build a Bridge.”

Today’s episode is Part III of the six-part series, “Studies in Romans: Saved by Grace, Powered by Love.”

Last week we explored the Apostle Paul’s teaching on Righteousness by Faith. Today, we’ll move into the next few chapters where Paul gives clear, practical guidelines for the believers in Rome. The Christian life is not abstract theology unconnected with life, but it has practical implications that will affect how we choose to behave each day. It is not enough merely to know the gospel; we must let it transform our life and let God impact every aspect of our lives. (This paragraph adapted from the NLT Life Application Bible introduction to Romans.)

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast at

Let’s begin today with a quick review.

In the first two parts of this series we read Paul’s description of the sinful state of man. Because we are born into Adam’s flesh, every one of us is sinful and doomed to destruction. However, Paul also states that in Christ, God has forgiven us, and all are justified in His eyes. The righteousness of Christ is accounted to all who believe and accept God’s gracious gift of full justification. The covenant of salvation is complete when both parties are in agreement. God has already finished and made known his part–every descendant of Adam and Eve is already fully justified in the eyes of heaven, but each individual must consent to receive the freedom offered by the gospel for him/herself. God won’t insist on saving someone who simply does not want to be saved, but chooses instead to live for self, rejecting the offer of grace and forgiveness.

We finished last week with Paul’s summary statement, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:1-2).

Today we’ll talk about God as the “bridge builder” who spans the gap between himself and us.

There is an ancient legend among the Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest. The Klickitat people in SW Washington State tell stories of the Great Spirit “Tyhee Saghalie” and his two sons Pahto and Wy’east who settled in the beautiful country of the Cascade Mountains, both north and south of the Columbia River. Tyhee Saghalie built a huge land bridge across the river so the families of his sons could visit with each other.

In time, both Pahto and Wy’east fell in love with the same beautiful maiden, Loowit, but Loowit could not choose between the brothers. This resulted in a time of terrible warfare between the tribes. Entire villages and forests were destroyed, and the earth shook so violently that the bridge across the river chasm collapsed, creating an earthen dam, the remains of which can still be seen today near the town of Cascade Locks, about 40 miles east of Portland, Oregon.

In 1926, the Wauna Toll Bridge Company completed and opened a steel-framed, cantilever bridge at the site of the ancient landslide. The modern “Bridge of the Gods” is now owned and operated by the Port of Cascade Locks. I have crossed this bridge many times. My mother first told me of the Native American story, and pointed out the nearby mountain features known as the legendary Bridge of the Gods.

And oh, by the way, according the the Klickitat story-tellers, because the brothers Pahto and Wy’east couldn’t stop fighting, Tyhee Saghalie turned them into volcanic mountains. Pahto became Mt. Adams to the north of the river, and Wy’east became Mt. Hood to the south. The lovely Loowit became Mt. St. Helens, and until the great eruption on May 18, 1980 she was the most beautiful of all the volcanic peaks in the Cascade range.

(AKA “Mt. Hood”)
(AKA “Mt. St. Helens”)
Pre-May 18, 1980
(AKA “Mt Adams”)
Modern Day Bridge of the Gods
Columbia River
Cascade Locks, Oregon

Well, perhaps it’s not too much of a stretch to use this old Native American legend to illustrate the condition of all the human race in our separation from God, the Creator, and from each other. Wars and conflicts dominate the entire history of humanity. Someone said the history of civilization is the history of war with occasional outbreaks of peace. Alienation from others is the natural fruit of self-centered hearts and selfish motives. It seems that regardless of countless attempts to form a lasting peace for our world, the best we can accomplish is never good enough. Inevitable conflicts erupt like volcanoes, spewing devastation and death everywhere.

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote, “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear you” (Isaiah 59:1-2).

It’s quite obvious we need some bridges to restore the life-giving connections we all need—not only with each other, but also with God.

Sinful man (Adam) cannot bridge the gap. Our only hope for permanent restoration of relationships—both with God and our fellowman—must come from outside.

The Apostle Paul told the Roman believers just how God accomplished this for all of Adam’s race.

“When we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. . . . When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Romans 5:6-11).

A few verses later Paul adds, “Just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men” (Romans 5:18).

From all of this we can see that God is the Master Bridge-builder. Jesus told the Pharisee Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

When we accept God’s gracious invitation to join-up with him and his cause on earth, he gives us a new assignment for our new, eternal life that begins immediately.

“You are my witnesses,” says the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me, and understand that I am he. Before me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after me” (Isaiah 43:10).

Paul makes that assignment even more clear in 2 Corinthians 5. In verse 18 he states that we each have been given the “ministry of reconciliation.” A couple of verses later (verse 20) he narrows the role even more: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors.”

We, then, are ambassadors—representatives—of the Kingdom of God even while we continue living in this present world. God’s kingdom is a kingdom of love, forgiveness, and acceptance. It is a kingdom of peace—both inner peace and in all our outward relationships insomuch as it is possible to “live at peace” with everyone around us. (See Romans 12:18). I’ll talk more about this in upcoming episodes of the podcast.

For now, let’s simply note that we are called to build bridges of understanding, bridges of peace, bridges of forbearance, and bridges of grace between ourselves and others, and to be the mediator of peace between others and God whenever we can.

To that end, Paul makes this amazing statement at the end of 2 Corinthians 5, “God made [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (v.21).

How do we become the “righteousness of God”? By yielding our old sin-laden selves in exchange for the new life in Christ. In doing so, we then become the hands, the feet, the body of Christ on earth, commissioned with one task: work for the reconciliation of every soul with the Creator of all, and thus build up the eternal Kingdom of God.

Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll share Part IV of this special six-part series on the Book of Romans. Next week’s title is “Living for Jesus.” In that study we’ll explore somewhat more in depth what it means to be a “bridge builder,” following the example of Jesus who became “the bridge” to the Father for us.

Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you! I’ll explore the next few chapters in Paul’s epistle where he writes about sharing our faith in our present world. I’m excited to share these incredible truths of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!

God bless.

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 25 of the podcast. Today’s episode is Part II of the six-part series, “Studies in Romans: Saved by Grace, Powered by Love.”

Today’s title is “Righteousness by Faith.”

Last week we explored the first three chapters of Romans where the Apostle Paul described the utterly depraved condition of all people, regardless of their ethnic heritage or genetic background.

Today, we’ll move into the next few chapters as Paul points his readers—and us—to the one and only hope for Adam’s race: the sacrifice of Jesus Christ by which he makes atonement for our sins, and opens the door to eternal life for any individual who chooses to accept it.

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast at

Let’s start with a quick review.

In Romans 3:10 and 3:23, Paul categorically declares that every son and daughter of Adam’s race—whether Jew or Gentile—is born in sin, steeped in sin, and not one single person is naturally righteous in his/her own right.

However, Paul also states unequivocally that every individual—Jew or Gentile, male of female, slave or free—has already been justified—made right with God—through the blood of Jesus Christ. (See John 3:24 and Galatians 3:28).

That text in Galatians says, “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus” (NLT).

The complete spiritual justification Paul teaches is offered to everyone who will choose to believe the promise of God.

“By deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe” (Romans 3:21-22).

Now, let’s clearly understand this: “Righteousness” *assumes compliance* with God’s Law!

At the very end of Romans, chapter 3, Paul forcefully makes this point: “There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law” (Romans 3:30-31 NLT).

Here’s an undeniable truth factor: God has already made known his position in this equation. He has declared everyone justified in his sight by the blood of Jesus. However, the equation—the transaction if you will—cannot be complete without your personal choice. One of God’s irrevocable gifts to all mankind is the absolute freedom of moral choice for every individual. Thus, we can say without question, your faith is revealed by your choices, and your choices will be revealed by your outward actions. As the old folk-proverb says, “Actions speak louder than words.”

To underscore this vital truth, here are several verses from Paul located a few chapters later:

“Since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. . . . Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.

“When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. . . . But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:15-23 NLT).

So, what does this look like in real life, in the “nitty-gritty” “rubber-meets-the-road” existence of our daily routines?

The answer lies in another base-line question: “How do you treat people?”

Take a look at Galatians 5:19-25.

“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.”

Reading these words from the Apostle Paul pulls the picture into sharp focus. The essence of sin is self-centered indulgence, whereas the heart of righteousness inspired by the presence of the Holy Spirit is others-centered and self-sacrificing. I particularly love verse 24, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there!”

In another passage Paul specifies what was nailed to the cross.

“God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them in the cross” (Colossians 2:13b-15).

Thus we can see by reading these two statements by Paul together, our standing as “righteous” before God involves two actions. First, what God has already done in our behalf (nailing the record of our sins and sinfulness to the cross), and second, our response to God’s action (acceptance), consenting for those sins to be removed from both our life and our life record. Yielding the “passions and desires” of our sinful nature effectively “nails them to the cross,” yielding a new life in Christ energized by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

Which brings us to this precious promise: Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

All of this, of course—purity, righteousness, a new life in Christ, freedom from sin’s dominance, and freedom from guilt—all of this becomes reality for us by faith!

In the Old Testament, Abraham—who was called the father of the faithful—provides a great example. Paul cites Abraham’s experience with these words in Romans 4:13, “For the promise that he would be heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.”

Then, Paul says this a few verses later: “[The promise of imputed righteousness is] also for us!” (Romans 4:24)

“Imputed” righteousness means that God “puts” the righteousness of Christ into our spiritual heart.

And, with that, Paul makes an amazing conclusion for this portion of his letter to the church in Rome. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).

So, once again we come to a point where we have opportunity to choose either to believe these incredible promises, or just let them pass and go on about living life as we think we want to. Choosing either way produces outward action, so choosing to believe God’s promises and the good news of the gospel will inevitably produce the fruit of obedient service for God’s kingdom.

By his grace, and through power of the indwelling Spirit, we can live outward lives of righteousness—that is, “right living”—that will honor God and bring hope, healing, encouragement, and blessing to other people within our circles of influence.

Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll share Part III of this special six-part series on the Book of Romans. Next week’s title is “Love Can Build a Bridge.” Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you! I’ll explore the next few chapters in Paul’s epistle where he writes about sharing our faith in our present world. I’m excited to share this incredible truth of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!

God bless.

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 24 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “Romans, Part I: State of Man.

In today’s episode, I am beginning a six-part series for the podcast under an overall, umbrella title, “Studies in Romans: Saved by Grace, Powered by Love.”

Today, we’ll begin with a quick introduction to both the series, and the Book of Romans itself. Then explore Paul’s message to the Roman believers in the first three chapters.

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast at

So, first off, here are the titles of each episode of the series as we move through the book:

  • Episode I, “State of Man”
  • Episode II, “Righteousness by Faith”
  • Episode III, “Love Can Build a Bridge”
  • Episode IV, “Living for Jesus”
  • Episode V, “Living Sacrifices”
  • Episode VI, “The Kingdom of God”

I hope you will be able to tune in to listen or read each of these episodes in the coming weeks. If you miss one, of course, you can always go back and listen to it at your convenience. Or, you may want to review a point I share later just to get a better understanding of Paul’s teaching. At any rate, I do hope, and pray, that the thoughts I present in this series with inspire you to make your own “deep dive” into Paul’s teachings in Romans. This letter to the Christian believers in Rome carries the core of New Testament theology more completely than any other single book. It is Paul’s greatest theological legacy for the church throughout all subsequent eras and ages. And, it is absolutely vital for our spiritual journey today.

Please pause with me for a moment as we ask God’s blessing on our study today, and throughout the course of this series.

Dear Father in heaven, thank you for all you do for us. Thank you for the messages of love and grace you send to us in the pages of the Bible, the written Word of God. And thank you for the ministry of Paul the Apostle who wrote this letter to the believers in Rome. Please guide our minds and teach us the things you want us to know as we work our way through this little series of Studies in Romans which I have titled, “Saved by Grace; Powered by Love.”

In Jesus Name, amen.

Paul’s epistle to the Romans was probably written around A.D. 56-57, but no later than A.D. 59. The earliest extant—that is still existing—manuscripts of Romans comes from about A.D. 200. Church historians and biblical manuscript scholars all agree that there is ample evidence supporting the authenticity of the text as we know it.

Paul wrote his letter to the Romans to introduce himself to the church there. He intended to stop there en route to Spain, to get acquainted with the local believers, and perhaps to raise funds for continuing his journey.

The Roman church was a mixture of Christian Jews and Roman believers. Paul had got wind of a major controversy brewing among them, and he needed to present the truths of the true gospel of Jesus.

The big issue was, “How can anyone be right with God on the final Day of Judgment?” In addressing this question, Paul’s one overriding purpose was to exalt Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah—the savior for all mankind, whether Jew or gentile.

With all that, let’s begin.

After a brief introduction of himself as the writer of the letter, Paul addresses the letter to his intended recipients:

“To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7-8).

Before moving away from this first introductory verse, let’s ask a question:

Who are the believers “in Rome?”

Of course, I’ve already spoken of the Jewish Christians—probably individuals who had traveled from Rome to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, and while there they witnessed the testimony of Jesus’s disciples as they proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus, empowered by the fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (You can read about this experience in Acts:2).

There were also gentile believers—Romans, Greeks, etc.—who had received the report of the people returning from Jerusalem with the incredible story of Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior for the entire world. These gentiles had believed the report, and were part of the Roman church.

But, beyond that, in a certain sense of the word, we are all “in Rome,” meaning that we are all sinners, we are all “in the world.”

However, in Paul’s opening greeting he says that grace and peace are extend to ALL from God the Father and from Jesus. Grace and peace are sent to everyone, because everyone is “loved by God,” and all are called to be God’s “saints.”

(By the way, a “saint” in scripture is simply one who believes in God, and has accepted His promise of eternal life in the righteousness of Christ.)

A few verses later in chapter 1, before outlining the sinful nature of all humanity, Paul presents the promise of the gospel.

“The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17).

It’s a good thing Paul lays that foundation of good news before he continues. In the next few passages he “pulls no punches” in describing the sinful state of all humanity.

“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, breed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:29-32 NIV).

No one is righteous

Paul continues his description of the sinful state of all humanity all the way deep into chapter 3, showing that Jews and gentiles are all in the same basket: All are sinners in rebellion against God and his law.

“There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Now, far too often preachers read these texts and stop short of what follows. It seems we need to emphasize the sinful depravity of all human beings so people will know how bad they really are. Maybe that will motivate people to “get their act together” and live a more respectable life among their fellow humans.

Not likely!

Here’s what the preachers miss: Verse 24 is a continuation of verse 23, and contains the most wonderful promise from God.

Here is the core truth of God’s gospel of grace!

“(23) All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (24) and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Dear friend, that is the what we must keep remembering and sharing about the state of man and the infinite love of God that pours his grace into our lives.

The same individuals who are identified as reprobate sinners (“all”) in verse 23, are the exact same people who are declared “justified freely by [God’s] grace” through the “redemption that came by Christ Jesus” in verse 24!

For those of you with a linguistic bent, the word “all” is the antecedent for both of the identities that follow: “all” have sinned; “all” are justified freely by his grace!

That does not mean—or imply—that everyone will be saved. It simply means that in God’s eyes everyone is already forgiven, justified, and qualified for heaven. However, although God wants to save every individual of Adam’s race, he knows that it hinges on the freewill choice he gave and guaranteed to each of us. We are not compelled to accept his free gift of forgiveness and justification. We can still choose the way of life or the way of darkness. It is up to each person to make that choice for him/herself.

Here are four spiritual steps you may take to receive God’s promised gift of eternal life:

  1. Understand that God loves you. Jesus told a man named Nicodemus, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).
  2. You are a sinner. We read earlier from Romans 3:10 and 3:23 that everyone is counted as a sinner. We all have fallen short of God’s ideal for us—by our own choice—and thus, as sinners, we all deserve to be separated from God, who is the source of life itself, and thus experience eternal death.
  3. However, all is not lost! Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, gave His life as a redemption for us—while we were still sinners! (See Romans 5:8). Recognizing this ultimate gift of Jesus who exchanged his life for our death opens the way for us to enter into life.
  4. We enter eternal life by accepting and receiving God’s gift. This is simply the opening of our heart to God’s Spirit, letting go of our natural spirit of rebellion and self-centered desires and practices, and allowing God’s Spirit to take up residence in our spiritual heart.

If you have not already done so, I’m inviting you today, right now, to take that final step. Accept Jesus as your personal Savior, and let him be Lord of your life. I can tell you from my personal experience, taking this step was the beginning of a life-long journey of fulfillment and growth in grace. From that moment until this very day, I have known a deep peace that surpasses frustration, sadness, loss, grief, disappointment, and anger. I can say with full assurance, God will always be with you to encourage, guide, provide, and lead.

Are you ready to enter into life today? If so, please bow your head with me right now and say this simple prayer:

“Dear Father in heaven, I confess that I am a sinner in need of your forgiveness. I accept your free gift of eternal life by accepting Jesus as my personal Savior. Just now, I open my spiritual heart to your Holy Spirit, and invite Him to live in me to lead me in the way of life eternal. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll share Part II of this special six-part series on the Book of Romans. Next week’s title is “Romans, Part II: Righteousness by Faith.” Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you! I’ll explore those next few chapters in Paul’s epistle where he details the basis and experience of living by faith in our present world. I’m excited to share this incredible truth of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!

God bless.

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 23 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “My Seven Essential Daily Prayers.”

In today’s episode, I’ll be sharing some thoughts from the introduction of this book I wrote a couple of years ago about my journey into a new experience in my prayer life. As this podcast/blogpost goes out, I will be praying that each listener/reader will be blessed and inspired to a deeper walk with God through prayer.

(For information on obtaining a copy of My Seven Essential Prayers, click on the picture for a link to my “author page” on

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast at

Prayer has always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my mother taught me to “talk to Jesus” every night when she tucked me into bed. I grew up attending church, and early on I was often asked to lead our church youth group in prayer. At home, our family paused to pray before every meal three times a day. My turn to “say grace” at the table happened regularly.

The idea of prayer was such an integral part of our lives that I didn’t think very much about it. That changed when I was about half-way through my teenage years.

One night when I was sixteen, I had a hard time settling down for the night. I tossed and turned on my bed for an hour or more, but sleep wouldn’t come. Everyone else was already chasing dreamland fantasies, but not me. Our big old farmhouse was lighted only by faint moonlight streaming through the windows. Everything was quiet—except for the heavy breathing of my slumbering family.

I often went for nighttime walks, so on that night when sleep wouldn’t come it was not unusual for me to get up, get dressed, and head out the back door. I glanced up at the clear sky and shining moon and began walking along a lane that led to the fields of our farm. It was a beautiful night, a cool evening with a gentle, almost imperceptible breeze.

Out there, under the moon and stars, I began to talk with God.

I was no stranger to prayer, but this time was different. God was talking to me! There was no physical presence I could touch with my hands, but I could truly feel Him walking beside me. There were no audible words—except mine—but I knew when He spoke to my heart.

I gazed up into the star-studded sky.

“Jesus,” I said, “tonight I accept you as my personal Savior and invite you to be Lord of my life. I open my heart’s door to you. Please come into my heart and live in me!”

In all the years of religion through my childhood and youth, never once had I taken this step. But that night, alone on that dusty lane under the moon and stars, that prayer became an anchoring milestone in my spiritual journey.

“Lord, what do you want me to do with my life?” I asked.

At that moment I heard God’s voice inviting me to a lifetime of Christian ministry. The compass of my life was reset to highways and byways I could never have imagined. Now, six decades later, I look back with amazement. On that dusty road my first baby steps of personal faith began a journey that continues even to this day.

In June 2011 I retired from 40 years of pastoral ministry.

I didn’t know it that evening when I walked that moonlit path, but—looking back—I can see God’s hand at work, leading, guiding, and empowering my walk with Him—and teaching me new lessons in prayer all along the way.

By early December after retiring, I had decided to reconnect with my blue-collar roots by leasing out my Dodge Ram pickup truck to deliver fifth-wheel RVs and travel trailers from factories to dealerships for their market. I genuinely enjoyed my “owner-operator” status in this tiny niche of the trucking industry. The job involved many, many miles of driving—and many hours of solitary reflection—as I traveled the highways of The United States and Canada. I was blessed to see some incredibly beautiful places, and I often found myself praising God all for the beauty of His Creation.

On the trail delivering a travel trailer to the Los Angeles basin

But the devil was out there on the road with me, too. At times during those long hours of getting from one place to another, I found my mind wandering into unhealthy areas of imagination. I knew that indulging in impure thoughts would sow bitter seeds of tragic loss in my spiritual experience and could inevitably destroy everything I held dear if I allowed them to grow. The fruit would be bitter, indeed. There’s no way I wanted to go there!

The only recourse I had was prayer. I spoke right out loud—right there in the cab of my truck—traveling sixty-miles-per-hour on the freeway, with a 38’ fifth-wheel trailer behind me.

“Lord,” I cried, “I want purity in my mind! I don’t want these evil thoughts. I reject them, and I pray for the purity that only you can give!”

To my utter amazement, immediately my thoughts were freed from the devil’s trap, and I could focus once again on healthy, life-building matters.

Over the next several months that simple prayer for purity expanded with several more. I began adding “righteousness in my heart,” and “integrity for my life” every time another tempting thought would rear its ugly head. And each time, God graciously delivered me by removing those errant, dark imaginations and replacing them with hope, peace, and light.

Eventually, I began to sense that God was taking me into a new journey I never anticipated. Those basic three prayers—purity, righteousness, and integrity— were joined by another four: “joy for my spirit,” “strength for my body,” “wisdom for my counsel,” and “to be a godly influence in the world.” These seven became my personal “essential daily prayers.” Of course, my prayers are never restricted to those seven only, but they are where I still begin my day, every day. I cannot survive spiritually without making this vital connection with God.

Witnessing the progressive growth and development of this journey has been wonderfully exciting. I have presented my experience and the ideas of My Seven Essential Daily Prayers series in live devotionals, and numerous sermons. And, if God opens the door for it, I’d love to develop a retreat-type seven-session seminar for “My Seven Essential Daily Prayers.”

My deepest prayer of all, however, is that every reader of these pages might find a rich personal walk with God, a vibrant spiritual journey, an abiding hunger for purity and righteousness, and to be filled with the Creator’s Agápe love.

Now, what I want to do is share a small summary of each of the seven prayers I write about in the book.

  1. “Purity in My Mind.” Because I recognize my imperfection and natural sinful inclinations, I must pray for purity as a gift from God, brought to me through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Purity is the soil in which God’s agápe love flourishes. Agápe love is unconditional and unbroken, and this was commanded by Jesus to his followers that they love [agápe) one another. We cannot generate this from our own choices. It must come as a gift from the source of love–God himself.
  2. “Righteousness in My Heart.” In the list of beatitudes given by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (v. 6). The spiritual “heart” is the seat of our wants and desires–the place of our innermost cravings. Since I truly desire the infilling promised by Jesus, in this prayer I open my life to him to create that hunger and thirsting I need.
  3. “Integrity in My Life.” Integrity involves both character and competence. My sinful nature wants to compromise for imagined short-term self-centered gain without the necessary investment of time and effort to do the right thing honestly and transparently. Only the Holy Spirit living in and through me can accomplish the goals of serving others with true excellence which will rightly represent Him.
  4. “Joy in My Spirit.” The Bible tells us “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). So, if I want the strength only God can give me, I need to have the joy in my spirit which only He can give. Thus, I pray for His joy to fill my spirit every day!
  5. “Strength for My Body.” Our body actually belongs to God since He created it. We are stewards (i.e. “caretakers”) of our physical being, and as such we should care for it as faithful stewards, living as much as possible to achieve the best health we can. Healthy living is God’s ideal for us, not to work our way into His good graces, but as a testimony of His amazing love (agápe) and grace. Praying for (physical) strength is good, but we must not work against God’s answers to our prayers by unhealthful practices.
  6. “Wisdom for My Counsel.” Once again citing the Apostle Paul, “Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24). This prayer (#6 in my list) is simply to have the Cross of Christ as the heart of every communication–spoken or unspoken–that comes from my life.
  7. “To Be a Godly Influence in the World.” To live in this world is to bear influence in the lives around us. The question, then, is what kind of influence will it be? Will it encourage “godly” living (i.e. “”wholesome,” “morally upright,” “positive,” etc.), or will it contribute to the moral decline of those it touches? As I look back on my life, I see innumerable times when my influence was anything but helpful to someone else’s spiritual health. (“God, forgive me!”) Titus 2:12 says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.”

I hope all this doesn’t blow you away! Writing this book was not an attempt to sway others to my way of thinking on any of these points. Nor was it an attempt to just “sell a lot of books” (as if, that is ever going to happen! LOL). Instead, it is part of my testimony of how the Lord has been working in my life, ever since my very young years. A believer’s testimony cannot be divorced from Christian witness. Revelation 12:11 says, “And they [the saints of God] overcame him [the devil] by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony.”

Perhaps my testimony can be an encouragement to another hungry soul.

Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll begin a special six-part series on the Book of Romans. Next week’s title is “Romans, Part I: State of Man.

Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you!

If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!

God bless.

Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 22 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “The Great Circle Dance of God.”

In today’s episode, I’ll be continuing our study from last week about being part of God’s team as His ambassadors to our world, including all our relationships every day, whether in the home, among friends, or interacting with other people wherever we may be.

Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast at

This could possibly be one of the most important messages I could share with you here on the podcast. As I just mentioned, we who have accepted our role as Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), can be confident that the One who has called us into his service will also give us wisdom to rightly represent him.

One day many years ago when I was a student at Walla Walla College, I opened my mailbox located in the lobby of Sittner Hall, the men’s dorm on campus. I discovered a postcard from my sister Beulah Fern who lived in Portland at the time. The message on the card was a quotation of Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (KJV).

Verse 6 in the New Living Translation says, “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

And, that really is the message I want to share with you today. Here is the basic idea: Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can be directed step-by-step in the best possible way to witness of his grace and allow him to use the influence of our lives to serve his purposes day by day.

Let’s explore that a little more deeply now.

The “preacher” who wrote the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes (King Solomon) included a beautiful, timeless poem which could be titled “A Time for Everything.” Among other things on Solomon’s list are these words: “A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).

In the conservative faith community of my childhood and youth, dancing in any form was strictly forbidden! As a result, I never really ever learned to dance, although I did try a few times. Nevertheless, I have been fascinated over the years to witness many types of dancing in greatly diverse cultures around the world.

One of the most universal styles of group dancing is known as circle dancing.

In the biblical story of the Exodus, Moses’ sister Miriam led the women in dancing to celebrate deliverance from the Egyptian army (Exodus 15:20-21). That dance is still performed by groups of Jewish people today.

It seems nearly every indigenous culture in the world has some form of circle dance. I have personally witnessed beautiful cultural circle dances among aboriginal tribes in the mountains of Taiwan. I believe there must be some deeper significance to this than just people having fun. In fact, if we look closely at both the Scripture and nature, we discover some great truths.

Here are a few examples of some cyclical phenomena in nature.

The entire known physical Universe displays cycles of movement. The moon, planets, the sun, even the entire Milky Way galaxy, all revolve in a grand and wonderful dance through the heavens.

Directly related to the earth’s annual circuit around the sun, each season comes and goes at precise times of the year.

Migratory birds and animals follow the exact routes taken by hundreds of preceding generations of their kind—even though the specific individuals may never have traveled that route before.

And, as we study God’s work among his people through the centuries, the Lord instructed the ancient Israelites to memorialize significant events in their history with annual feasts and celebrations. Then Jesus himself instructed the disciples to remember his death and resurrection through the ceremony we now call communion or “the Lord’s Supper.” The Apostle Paul says that by participating in this sacred ceremony we “proclaim the Lord’s death till he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).

King Solomon declared, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

So, what does all this have to do with our designated role as ambassadors for the Kingdom?

Let’s take a step back and look at one of the most intriguing—even mysterious—chapters in the Bible. Although the visuals described in Ezekiel 1 have often been misunderstood, I have come to believe the “wheels within wheels” vision perfectly describes the work God is doing through his people throughout the world.

Here is Ezekiel’s vision:

“As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground . . . This was the appearance and structure of the wheels . . . Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not turn about as the creatures went. Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes [facets] all around. When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.”

Ezekiel 1:15-21 (NIV)

This strange vision of Ezekiel’s is best understood by the next scene, just a few verses later:

“Then there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man . I saw that from what appeared to be the waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.”

Ezekiel 1:25-28 (NIV)

So, here in Ezekiel 1 we see this vision of wheels within wheels, turning, traveling, moving according to the direction of the Spirit. With that graphical description fresh in the reader’s mind, the prophet then paints a fantastic picture of God on his throne high above the earth. This vision is nearly identical to that described by Daniel in chapter 10:4-6,

“On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.”

Daniel 10:4-6 (NIV).

John the Revelator also saw a vision of the same divine person:

“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone ‘like a son of man,’ dressed in in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance”

So, what—or who—did Ezekiel see in his vision connected with the wheels-within-wheels? I believe it was none other than the pre-incarnate Christ directing the movement of his Kingdom ambassadors—the divine Choreographer, if you will—sending each individual on missions of mercy, witness, and service to all the nations of the world. The Great Circle Dance of God is a divine movement carrying the good news of his love, grace, and forgiveness to every soul under heaven. Every believer is commissioned to represent the King in every transaction, every relationship, every word and action. Through the guidance and instruction of the Holy Spirit, we are sent on special assignments to bring hope, encouragement, and blessing to all within our circles of influence.

Here is a reassuring promise from Jesus:

“The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:25-26 NIV).

Then Jesus followed that promise with this: “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me” (John 15:26 NIV).

Do you ever feel like you’re just running around in circles? Sometimes we might seriously wonder if our life has any meaning or significance at all. If you’re working at a job, maybe every day feels just like yesterday, and tomorrow promises to be more of the same old, same old routine.

Don’t despair! God can use even your familiar, daily routine to serve his purposes. And that, in fact, is what our life in Christ is all about. It makes little difference whether you are on a mountaintop high in your spiritual journey, or slogging along down in the swampy valley, God is there with you, and will touch the lives of others through you as you give your life to him to use as he sees best. He knows just what steps in the great dance he has designed for you. Following the lead of his Spirit will glorify God and bring great blessings to you as well.

And, you never know when the circumstances of your life may change. As with all circles, “what goes around comes around.” God is in charge of the dance. He opens the path before you step-by-step. David, the shepherd boy wrote, “The Lord . . . leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:1-3 NIV).

Right now, today, the Holy Spirit invites you to join the circle. This circle is filled with agápe love, acceptance, and forgiveness. In the center is a fountain of living water springing forth in endless supply. “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

The invitation is open. Come join the dance!

Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.

I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll be sharing some thoughts from my book, “My Seven Essential Daily Prayers.” Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you!

If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!

God bless.