Believe in Jesus. Is it really that simple?

The Christian message is remarkably simple. And powerful. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.

Leave your religious deeds at the door, they’re not needed. Your good works, your financial gifts, your political affiliations, and everything else you’re relying on: leave them at the door.

Christ Jesus died for sinners, and the work of God is to believe in Him. Faith. A confidence and trust that names Jesus Christ Savior and Lord.

How can that be? Didn’t Paul just make that up? Isn’t that an invention of the early Christians around the campfire? Way too simple.

Actually, no. It was there all along. No surprises. What sheds light on this is a little known but oh-so-important chapter, Hebrews 8, arguable the most important chapter in the Bible. It’s the hinge that ties the Old & New Testaments together. It makes sense of the Christmas story and the Easter narrative. It explains John 3:16. It’s a powerful reminder that God’s Word is not an outdated collection of religious musings but a cogent and breathtaking declaration of the grace of God which brings life and hope to our weary souls.

Here’s the key verse:  But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. That’s a loaded statement! In short…

There was a covenant God made with the Jews at Sinai. 68 verses summed up like this: behave, and you’ll be alright. 13 verses of ridiculous blessings for heartfelt obedience; a stunning 53 verses rehearse the curses for disobedience. In a word, performance based religion, entirely conditional.

But God also said through Jeremiah that a NEW covenant (promise, agreement), was coming. This one would be different. It wouldn’t be performance based or  conditional. The most remarkable statement is the last one, For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. Did you catch that?! It’s simple and overwhelming. God who knows everything, who is thrice holy, treats me as if I’d never sinned. HELLO.

In this new covenant, grace reigns. Complete forgiveness is offered. And it’s not based on Colin, it’s based on JESUS.

That’s why Christians, when they’re faithful to God’s Word, offer something massive and unheard of: a clean slate.

And it doesn’t stop at conversion. Grace is for every single day of our Christian life. Let me illustrate with this beautiful verse:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When I agree with God that I messed up, He offers not only to forgive but also to clean me up and send me on my way. Awesome. But don’t skip over two huge words: faithful and righteous.

To what is God faithful when He forgives me? He is faithful to HIS COVENANT! I will remember their sins no more. Do you see it?! Nothing in God’s Word is happenstance or arbitrary. God made a promise and Christ is the mediator of His new covenant that is enacted on better promises. That my friend is grace.

And how is God righteous when He forgives me?? He’s perfect. He’s holy. He doesn’t owe me anything. But ah – He made a promise and inaugurated a covenant. He promised He would choose not to remember my sins. How can this be? Simple. Jesus suffered for me. God’s righteousness was upheld because sin was punished. Only the one who took the blows was sinless. That’s the simplicity and wonder of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the message of the Bible.

For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son, and whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

New covenant. New construct. New way of doing things. Faith, from first to last. All of grace, He gets the praise and we have a life worth living. Keep this in mind when you gather to worship tomorrow; it cost Him His Son, He is worthy of our praise.

Love well.

Pastor Colin

Cross cultural ministry trips - you can do this!

Cross cultural ministry trips have fallen on hard times. Helpful critiques are calling out practices that need to change, found herehere and here. Wouldn’t hiring locals to do the work be money more wisely spent? Leave your phone in your pocket for crying out loud and stop it already with the endless selfies. Is it really all that helpful to descend upon an orphanage for 8 days, drop tons culturally inappropriate gifts and leave to never return?

They’ve got a point. The ability to instantaneously post pictures from across the world have a crushing ability to make it “look at me!” However, if ministry trips are done right, they can have life changing – and lasting – impact for good for all involved 

When I was 15, traveled to Haiti on my first ministry trip. The dirt roads, bloated bellies, poverty, tarantulas and witchdoctors remain with me to this day. In fact, similar experiences have shaped who I am and how I lead others. The potential for spiritual formation is immense; so let’s figure out how to run these trips effectively. By developing an executable blueprint, I hope in the process to answer some of the above noted critiques. 

Big Idea #1 - What’s your focus? 
As a pastor leading and commissioning ministry trips, I’ll let you in on a secret: I truly hope we are a blessing to those we visit. But my primary focus is on the team I’m taking. Ministry trips are a discipleship tool in the tool belt. They are one of the most effective paths to spiritual formation and to literally change someone’s entire outlook on life. 

What are some of the benefits of participating in international ministry trips?

1)   It develops gratitude. Most often, when Americans travel they realize how truly blessed they are in this country. So many creature comforts! When visiting Russia in college, I recall my friend remarking, “I bet you have your own personal automobile which is climate controlled with a stereo system.” Ouch.

2)   It offers an opportunity for focused ministry, which in turn reminds us what we’re called to as Christians: to serve God and others.

3)   It fosters dependence upon God. When you’re out of your element and stretched out of your comfort zone, you lean on Him more. It’s funny how your prayer life suddenly spikes!

4)   It costs you something. Most people have to raise money. It’s a good place to be, to work hard and request others to help. How wonderful for others to participate in this way, who may not be able to go themselves!

5)   One of my favorite aspects of these trips is to experience worship in cross-cultural settings. You get to see how BIG God is. We see the power of the GOSPEL in cultures and languages we know little of. Seeing God at work reinforces our faith and prepares us for what heaven will be: every nation, tribe and language present around the throne. Worshiping Jesus. Read Revelation 4-5!

6)   Deepening of relationships. Church is all about people, right? How often do you truly connect with others on a deep level? The rat race is maddening sometimes. But on these trips, you have a lot of shoulder-to-shoulder time in often-undesirable situations – all of which deepen friendships, promote vulnerability, and produce “hey I’ve gained new brothers and sisters” experiences. 

Big Idea #2 – Working with those on the other end
You may be partnering with a fellow American on the other end or indigenous ministry workers. Regardless, keep the following focus and you’ll be good news over there.

1)   Who called this meeting? If you’re inserting yourself where you’re not desired or needed, go back to the drawing board. With my church, we limit trips to those ministries we actively support. By support I do not just mean a monthly check. I mean there’ s a relationship. Technology today connects us with virtually everyone. You’re going over to people you know. You love them and they love you. You’re invested in their success and thriving. Either they invited you or you inquired and they told you how you could help.  Make sure you purpose is helpful and your presence desired.

2)   Know your ministry partners. What are their challenges? What are their needs? How can you encourage them, help meet their needs, get them to the finish line, and breath life into their weary souls? Coming with this posture makes all the difference. We’re here for YOU: to support you, help you, encourage you, enter your world and help you thrive. And perhaps, to remind you afresh why you’re here in the first place.

3)   Don’t be a burden. When hosting teams there is always an element of hospitality and effort. But be mindful of when you’re coming – is it good timing or could it be better planned another time? Are you helping your ministry partner accomplish a goal they’re already pursuing or are you creating an unnecessary extra job when they should be focused elsewhere?

4)  Build relationships. Where appropriate, schedule return trips. This lets folks on the other side know you're committed to them. It also deepens friendships, builds memories, and refines service execution.  

5)   Small but important add-on: bring Oreos! Or whatever they love and can’t get over there, particularly if they left their home country to minister there. Such little gifts mean the world. Remember the last time you craved chocolate and realized you were fresh out? My point exactly. 

Big Idea #3 – Mind your manners.

Ever have someone in your home that is inconsiderate to others and disrespects your property? You can’t wait for them to leave but you know you have to clean their mess once they’re gone. Don’t be that guy overseas.

1)   Know basic cultural cues. Know enough to not offend others without even knowing it or embarrassing your hosts when in public. Whether it’s placing your Bible on the floor or flashing the soles of your feet – make an attempt to not be a liability.

2)   Limit screen time. This is an area we’ve grown in. Set an hour a day aside for people to connect with loved ones, post a few pics, and review their newsfeed. Then be done with it.

3)   Be respectful with pictures. I recommend you don’t pull out your phone the first day. Get to know people before taking a picture. Go easy on the selfies. Don’t ever post pics that don’t accurately represent what you’re doing or why you’re there.

4)   Bring gifts? Great. Just make sure they are not excessive for the target population. Make the people are glad they met you, not just get your stuff. 

Big Idea #4 – Mindset matters!

The battle is always in the mind. Make sure yours – as well as your heart – is well prepared and ready for action!

1)   It’s not about you. REPEAT TEN TIMES. You’re not there for you, you’re there for others. You’re there to serve Christ, build up His church, and spread the Gospel. Get over yourself.

2)   Be humble. Be ready to do anything for the cause. Maybe it’s cleaning toilets or serving others. It doesn’t matter. It’s all for the Kingdom. And Jesus set the bar pretty high on serving others.

3)   Be prayerful. I can tell you from experience, what the Bible says about spiritual warfare is true: we have an adversary who likes to mess with our minds, discourage our hearts, destroy unity at all costs. After all, what good would a bunch of confused, self-centered, bickering foreigners be…keep them distracted for 10 days and they’ll cause more trouble than good. Not only bathe your efforts in prayer, but solicit the earnest and regular prayers of others while you are gone.

4)   Prepare well. Get in the right frame of mind. Get enough sleep and hydration. Get in your Bible. How does an athlete train for the championship game? How does an actress prepare for the big show? How does a musician prepare for the concert of his or her life? Apply that same tenacity, training and focus. Know the culture, know the plan, know His truth. Have prayer and accountability partners.

5)   Plan well. Have your team know what to expect and understand what their role is on the ground. Yes be flexible, but that’s no excuse to not have a plan. Provide a packing sheet so people can be packed the day before to alleviate stress. Have adequate medical plans in place should they be needed.

6)  Screen well. This will be a growth experience for everyone, but some people may not be a good fit due to emotional, spiritual or social maturity. Physicial limitations may come into play, as well. 

7)   GET EXCITED! What a privilege to ministry abroad. It’s exciting to see other places and experience new cultures. And to represent the King of Kings. 

Big Idea #5 – Removing the money tension

It’s not cheap to bring a team across the world. But I believe the pros outweigh the cons and make these trips well worth the effort. Is it sometimes wiser to wire money over to let locals purchase materials and hire village laborers? Yes! When that’s the case, do so. Our church certainly does that. Currently we are sending money over to India so a church can buy materials to repair their roof with local labor. But I’m also preparing to take a team to Kazakhstan in which we’ll assist in some construction. Let’s start from the beginning:

1)   Work hard to fund your trip, solicit help from others, and let your church defray costs. That’s always worked for me. It’s effective and doesn’t make it overwhelming on any one person.

2)   Make sure your host tells you what it’ll take to cover your costs, so you can cover them yourselves. That way, you’re not a financial burden. Try to leave some behind when you go.

3)   Be creative in fund raising and execution – isn’t that how we attack it in the workplace? Let me explain. I charged a local construction company to use our church parking lot – I told them I’d use the money to help youth and orphans around the world. We took that money and wired it over to Kazakhstan so they could purchase materials for a strategic construction project. They’ve already started on the work, but some of our teammates are going to join them next week. So – mix of local and int’l. We fund because we’re able and benefit from the blessing of being able to work hard for ten days alongside our brothers and sisters. Local materials, local workers, with a few Americans thrown in. Win-win.

4)   When fundraising, be clear in how funds (and overages) will be used.

5)   Be sure to employ excellent bookkeeping and know tax laws.

6)   Clearly convey to potential donors what they are contributing to and why. Be sure to send thank you letters with clear examples of how God used their funds in your life. Make sure the church reaps the benefits knowing the blessings, triumphs and heartaches of your trip. 

I could go on. Some time in the future, I probably will. Once I get your feedback and ideas on this piece that is, ha! Here’s the thing. If you’re feeling a tug to go – GO. I’ve never come across anyone who’s regretted going on a cross-cultural ministry trip. If you know someone going, PRAY for him or her. Seriously, get behind them before the Throne. When you receive a support letter, don’t groan inwardly…here’s an opportunity to invest in Kingdom work! Skip a latte or dinner out – put your money where it counts best. 

I’ve written from the perspective of an American going overseas. But we are by no means the only ones involved. These principles work for everyone.

Thanks for reading. I would love your feedback or reactions. Ministry trips have been a blessing to me in my formative years and I love leading others. I’m always looking for ways to improve my game. 

Sincerely in Christ,

Pastor Colin

Time: the critical element

This year we are focusing on developing the passion and practice of studying God’s Word. Engaging it in such a way that we do not emerge unchanged but deepened from the encounter. Time is key in this pursuit.  

The Psalmist meditated day and night in His law. He consistently ran to His holy book, and when he did, it was not for a casual read.

Sometimes we can schedule blocks of time; often though, our routine implodes as the day moves on. I want to encourage you in two ways: do the best you can, and, you will never regret the effort you put into it. 

Time allows for the truth of God’s Word to penetrate our heart, settle our mind, calm our spirit, lift our countenance, refresh our soul, calibrate our perspective and strengthen our frame. It’s what the Spirit uses to build us up and apply His work in us. Someteims we are rushed and miss the benefits. It’s as if time isn’t really important in the vertical anyway. I mean, what does time have to do with a relationship, anyway? 

Said no woman ever. 

And, said no kid to his or her dad, ever. 

Time matters. Why do we think any differently when it comes to God’s Word? As much as it lies in your control, diligently invest time to reflect on His truth. The more time we invest, the greater the dividend. Know up front that it requires effort, intentional effort. There will always be a million more entertaining options before us. Or, twice as many fires to put out. But I have never met a saint who regretted investing time in the Word. And I’ve never met a seasoned saint who did not acknowledge the effort that was required. 

But let me say this. In order to extract the riches of God’s Word, there must be a settled determination to give it the time and respect it deserves. We get out of it what we put in. One does not sculpt abs without investing time and effort, just as one does not play the piano for a few days and expect to be called Beethoven. 

So the next time you plan on binge watching your favorite series or drop hours watching the playoffs, ask yourself this question: am I neglecting the pursuit of God’s Word to do this? If His Word falls to the wayside, it’s time to rearrange priorities and adjust the schedule. You won’t regret it!

I promise you, when you invest the time to reflect upon and study God’s precious Truth, you will not be disappointed. It takes effort and often requires sacrifice but is more than worth it. In the weeks to come we will look at the many benefits of engaging the Word, as well as practical ways to do so. I always think of my grandparents, who well into their 80’s beamed with the joy of the Lord and their love for each other. Through all their trials and heartaches, they grew more joyful, not grumpier. 

They knew their Lord and they knew Him well. And never could contain that infectious joy. 

In Christ,




Shepherds and sheep: whom were the angels worshiping, anyway?

It's definitely a highlight of the advent narrative when an angel appears to lowly shepherds to announce our Savior’s birth. As the heavenly host gave praise to God in the highest, the glory of the Lord shone round about those shepherds. No wonder Luke says they “feared a great fear”.

Have you ever stopped to ask, whom were the angels worshiping

It may sound like a silly question. Of course, they’re worshiping God! They even say that. But let’s correlate this passage with one of my favorites from Hebrews: 

And again, when [God] brings [Jesus] into the world, he says,
“Let all God's angels worship him.” 

When God sent His Son into the world, He directed His angels to worship Jesus. Isn’t that what was happening when the angels announced Christ’s birth? 

As the angels gave praise to God in the highest, they were indeed worshiping Jesus. Because Jesus is Lord: Immanuel, God with us. He came humbly and lay in a manger, but though his glory was veiled to us it was seen clearly by the angels. Peter tells us the angels long to understand God’s agenda in Scripture. Believe me: on those hills in Galilee, they understood. 

Why does this matter?

It matters because the deity of Christ is the heart of the Christianfaith. Many religions affirm Jesus to be a good man, a wise teacher or revered prophet. But the Bible gives no such option.   

That’s why the angels gave praise: God gave his very best, he gave his Son. It was Jesus who would bear the sins of the world on a cruel Roman cross. It was Jesus who would redeem sinners, both Jew and Gentile. He couldn’t do this if he were a mere man. He couldn’t do this if he were not God. No deity, no cross. No cross, no Christianity and no future hope for sinners. It was for this reason the prophets foretold his birth and called him the Prince of Peace and Mighty God. That’s a strange baby announcement! As a pastor I love greeting babies in the hospital – never once has one been handed to me, “we’ve named him God.”

So this Christmas, when your pastor preaches on the angelic visitation or children sing about shepherds keeping watch over their sheep by night, remember this one glorious truth: Jesus is Lord. He was Lord at his birth and is now and forevermore the recipient of angelic worship. Angels don’t worship people they worship God. 

How humbling: the One who lay in a manger was praised and adored by angels.

And one day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. 

Merry Christmas, 

Pastor Colin

How God meets us in our sorrows and heartache

Two couples facing insurmountable problems.                     

That’s how Luke opens his account of Jesus’ life and ministry. Specifically, it’s how he prepares us for the advent of the Christ. Luke uses both stories to vividly paint a backdrop for one glorious truth: 

Nothing shall be impossible for the Lord. 

The first couple was well respected within the religious community. Zechariah was a popular priest, but he served with a limp and with heartache. He and Elizabeth were childless, well past their childbearing years. Perhaps Elizabeth had become bitter, as well.

Then there was a young couple engaged to be married. Mary was a model teen and a great catch for Joseph. They saved themselves for marriage and had big dreams of starting a family. Well before their wedding day Joseph finds out Mary is pregnant. He knew he was not the dude, so he wants to quietly put her away and spare her life. Dashed dreams, cold water splashed all over his ambitions. But there’s more. Let’s add to the mix a dose of insanity: “Don’t worry, Joseph, GOD got me pregnant!” His life as he knew it just went up in smoke.

WHERE IS GOD IN ALL THIS??! Where was God when…my spouse died, I lost my job, my fiancé broke up with me, we can’t have kids, I’m waiting for Mr. Right who is MIA, our home was foreclosed or my marriage denigrates? Or, where is God when people are getting gunned down or blown up, kids are abandoned and sold into slavery, pestilence wipes out thousands, and kids are alone on Christmas because their parents are high as a kite or incarcerated? 

Pause for a moment and consider the prophet’s words some 700 years earlier: 

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows.

Those heartaches and dashed dreams? Jesus would suffer and die for us, bringing healing where we need it most. 


All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

The context of these words was Isaiah’s word to Israel as they languished in exile. "God has forgotten us" (how often do we feel that?). But God reminds Israel that He has not forgotten them, and that His love runs deep for them. He is also working a spiritual redemption that will be for the whole world and of an eternal nature. But He did not just "die for our sins" – that’s the Sunday School version. He carried our sorrows and bore our griefs. The two go hand in hand. The latter defines the former. 

Let’s go back to Mary, Joseph, Zechariah and Elizabeth. 

Two different stories, both consisting of overwhelming pain and heartache. Why are they in Luke's advent account? Because this is why Christ came. He would not only bear our sins but he would also bear our sorrows and our griefs. He came to real people with real problems, people like you and me. And how was this all tied together? 

Remember what the angel said: I am Gabriel, I stand in the presence of God. Nothing shall be impossible for the Lord. 

God is not distant or aloof. He sent His Son right into our world. He visited our pain and our messiness. He saw our misery and sorrows. Christ was tempted just like we are. He experienced hunger and grief. Jesus came for people like Mary & Joseph, and for Zechariah and Elizabeth. Yes, His entrance was unique (hence, the virgin birth), but don’t forget that their problems were very real. 

There is a greater narrative, which is God's unfailing hesed for us - "hesed" is a rich Hebrew word that means God's mercy, love, patience, tenderness, kindness, faithful love…all wrapped together into one word. God demonstrated His hesed for us through identifying with our sorrows and aches as His Son suffered in our place. 

Both Mary and Zechariah burst into praise in Luke 1 to declare God’s mighty work of salvation. Of course they do. How could they not, given how powerfully God had just interjected in their lives and showed the world His love? Despite our messes and sorrows, GOD is faithful and loving. HE keeps His word and extends mercy and compassion. He smashes the impossibilities in our lives and provides a way out. We still live in a fallen world, but He is making all things new and replaces our despair with hope and encouragement even when things don’t work out the way we’d like them to. 

We’ll develop this more on Sunday when we embark on our journey through Luke’s Gospel: Model Man, Mighty God.

- Pastor Colin


Why Good Friday is way more than "good"

For many, Resurrection Day weekend looks like this:

On Friday, Jesus is dead on the cross (cue the somber music). 
On Saturday, Jesus is dead on the tomb (a spirit of defeat). 
On Sunday, He busts out there is great celebration (because finally, victory). 

Not so. Not even close. Let me explain. 

It is wise to be somber when recalling Friday’s events. The Son of God suffering and bearing MY sin is no small thing. However, don’t allow that introspection to fall into defeatism. He was victorious in his death, as He was in his resurrection.

My Bible tells me that victory was secured on Friday. The crucifixion was triumph, not defeat. The disciples did not understand this; they were confused and lost. Believe me, Sunday was awesome: it is crucial and upon it our faith stands. But
V-Day was Friday. And the victory party continued all weekend…and beyond! 

Why, you ask? 

One word. In Greek, Tetelestai


The cross is where Jesus bore my sins
no, that’s when Jesus became sin, for me
and drank the full chalice of God’s righteous wrath.

That’s when GOD declared victory
because satan was defeated.

That was the last time I’d ever see my sins. EVER. 

That’s when the curtain was torn
and we gained access to God. 

That’s when my past became my past (although I wasn’t yet born). 

That’s when Jesus fulfilled His mission
which was to DESTROY the works of the devil.

That’s when Jesus declared, “TETELESTAI!” “IT IS FINISHED!”

Good Friday was more than good; it was breathtaking.

[God forgave] us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

…and the resurrection is confirmation and grants us a living hope

[Jesus] was through the Spirit of holiness declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

It’s not as if the grave could contain the Author of Life, anyway. 


Pastor Colin

Men: Focus Here in your Marriage

Sometimes we men just need to be told what to do. Keep it simple and point us in the right direction. So it is in marriage. 

Tim Keller says that relationships are messy because people are messy; therefore expect messiness. He’s right. When you think of marriage, so many factors are flying all over: gender differences, individual history, personality differences (whoa!), family of origin, personal goals, ad infinitum. 


Men, as we follow Christ every responsibility we have in marriage can be summed up in two words:

Love her.   

Love her consistently, selflessly, deeply, and tenderly. Scripture puts it this way: 

“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” 

God’s wisdom is so perfect, so direct. There are a million books written on different facets of marriage, most of which are very helpful. But here’s the foundation upon which you build, maintain, and develop your relationship: LOVE. 

Here’s the catch. It’s easy to love someone when they love you back. When they respond well. When you’re on the same page.  When life is going well. But that’s why most wedding vows read for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. Love is tested and shines when it doesn’t come easily or when you struggle to express it. 

Plenty of authors have touched on how to communicate well, keep the spark, and to be happily married. I’ll leave that to them, and keep this more focused on a deeper and underlying issue. 

If we men keep in mind the how and why in loving our wives, everyone in our families benefit from this leadership in the home. 

How many Disney movies end with, and they lived happily ever after.  In real life the “ever after” bit isn’t always happy and it always takes commitment, patience, and teamwork to build a healthy marriage. And Hollywood highlights feeling good.  Feelings come and feelings go. As far as loving our wives is concerned, love is not a feeling; it’s an action (decision). Seasons of ambivalence are not reasons to stop loving – it’s when you need it the most. 

Thank God Christ did not love me conditionally, I’d have no hope. “OK, you’ve done it now. I’m through with you.” What if He really did call down legions of angels while pinned to the cross? That’s the point and it’s why no-fault divorce is so outrageous. Christ never walked away from me; in the same way, marriage is acommitment. Love is not just feeling, it’s an action. We don’t love only if we receive something in return, we love because of Christ’s example and it’s the right thing to do. When the Apostle Paul tell us to love our wives as Christ loved the church, this is what he had in mind. Love her unconditionally, in the big and small things. 

Why love our wives? Here are three simple reasons. 

You’ll become a better person. Marriage highlights our self-centeredness and helps us become others focused. Everyone likes being with the latter, trust me. 

She’ll respond. Show me a woman who feels loved, and I’ll show you a wife who responds by giving it everything she’s got. Selfless love breathes life and hope to people who are hurting, even people who are mad at you. And guess who benefits from a wife who is motivated to love you back…? 

Your testimony. Paul said my love for Christine is a mirror of Christ’s love for me. That’s deep. When people come into our home, they ought to encounter God’s love. Our Christian witness is tainted if others see I do not love our wives well. Love is a primary trait of a true Christian, and it shines brightest within marriage. 

One last thought. Don’t be intimidated by figuring it all out at once. Paul asked you to love her right after he told everyone to love each other. You have plenty of time to figure her out (good luck with that, BTW). For now, put your best foot forward and practice being considerate, selfless, helpful, attentive, and thoughtful. You can’t lose with these. Christine and I will celebrate 20 years this year; I have learned a LOT during this time and have plenty more to learn. But it helps to know my primary game plan in my marriage and where I need to grow.

- Pastor Colin

Why are we celebrating Jesus' birth, anyway?

So what’s the big deal about Christmas? Who cares if a baby was supposedly born some 2,000 years ago?

The big deal about Jesus is who he is and what he did. Consider this:

In Israel’s darkest hour, hope was extended. Joy would come, though not as they expected. God was preparing to judge His people through the tyranny of the Assyrians and later the Babylonians. Yet as Isaiah foretold the waves of destruction, he held out HOPE. Hope that transcended distress of every kind.

The theme of hope was realized in a baby. As darkness descended, look for a helpless little baby.

Regarding this baby, a sign would be given so no one would miss his arrival. He’d be born of a virgin. That hasn’t happened in all of history, nor will it be repeated. But what hope lies in a BABY?

The mystery of “God with us” would be revealed in his name, one of which was Mighty God. Now, I’ve greeted plenty of babies and not one was been named God. Imagine a Jewish family having the audacity to call their son GOD.

Ah, but this special one would fulfill so many previously given prophecies of the Messiah, or anointed one.  The Jews looked for their deliverer from the line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and later, David. Genealogy mattered, and God’s execution would be meticulous.

So, when the forest of the Israelite’s pride was mowed down with only stumps remaining in the landscape of their cultural identity, look for a baby, one from David’s line. He would be the “ROOT and the STEM” of Jesse (David’s dad). He would be both the predecessor (from eternity) and the descendant of David. Riddle me that.

So you have a virgin born son, God engaging His own creation. He would take on the limitations and sorrows of a regular Joe. His mission was announced in advance and the eternal Son would enter the very time and space He created.

What would he do? But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities. He was born to die, to set us free from more than temporal aggressors. And though he’d be born to the Jews, he was for everyone.

The apostle John later put it this way:

The Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil. “Appeared” means he showed up in Bethlehem but that was not his origin. And “destroyed” is a violent term.

As well, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

The big deal about Christmas is that God entered our world of sorrows, tasted death, and suffered in our stead. Forgiveness and eternal life are gained through simple faith in who he is and what he has done for us.

Merry Christmas. May the love and light of Jesus Christ be yours in full this Holiday Season.

- Pastor Colin

P.S. Verses I referenced, in order, are Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, 11:1, 53:5, I John 3:8 and John 3:16.


Do Good People Need Jesus?

The history of the early Christian church is found in the book of Acts, which comes right after the for Gospel accounts in the New Testament. It speaks to God’s faithfulness and power, for lives touched by the Gospel are never the same.

There are two conversion accounts that involve people on the opposite side of the spectrum. Saul of Tarsus (later, the Apostle Paul) was the zealous religious leader who tried to stamp out Christianity by throwing them in prison or killing them. He needs Jesus – we get that. Then you have the first non-Jew to be saved, Cornelius. He is a deeply religious, thoughtful, generous and well regarded by everyone. Does he need Jesus? He is practicing his religion, helping others, and not hurting anyone. I'm sure you know people like him. Isn’t it narrow minded to assume he needs Jesus? Can’t we leave him alone and focus on other people without pushing our exclusive claims on people like him? 

Luke’s account in Acts makes it clear that Cornelius – and people like him – do need Jesus. It is GOD who disrupts Cornelius’ life with an angelic visitor, directing him to fetch Peter and listen carefully to what he has to say. Peter then receives his own vision and is led kicking and screaming to visit this Gentile’s home. The end is glorious, as Cornelius’ house is not only saved but also wonderfully visited by the Spirit.

Why does it feel so unnecessary for good people to be bothered with Jesus? We often have a flawed view of our own sinfulness and God’s holiness. We naturally think that if we’re better than our neighbor or not as bad as Bin Laden, we’ll make it in somehow. Or that God will just have mercy on us, because He’s good like that. Or that we’ll spend a few hundred years in purgatory paying for our misdeeds before being let in. The problem with all that is this: that’s our rules, not His.

God is holy and terrifyingly so. Beyond our comprehension. Moral perfection on every level.

We are not. Not even close. I hope I don’t have to convince you of this one.

If God were to simply excuse our wrongdoings, that would be merciful but His justice would suffer loss. And who could possibly ever earn a good standing before Him?

Here’s the great news. Jesus came to save sinners, to suffer in our stead. Through His death on the cross, sins are fully accounted for and grace extended to regular people like you and me. Jesus is for the Sauls of the world who are full of hatred and harm others, but He’s ALSO for those who have a lot going on for them and look good on the outside. We all fall short, we all miss the mark. 

Is this offensive? Of course it is. We’re all called on the carpet and not one of us can solve this ourselves. It brings to light the depth of our sin while leveling the playing field. This is not man’s idea, it’s God’s own verdict.

But once we get past our own pride and self-sufficiency, sweeter words could not be heard:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

- Pastor Colin




Ananias & Sappira and Advent

So why preach this on the first day of Advent? First of all, we’re in a series and I wanted to keep going. Ha! But, consider these Advent applications: 

1) What a potent reminder that God is still HOLY.  Enough people were struck dead in the Old Testament to get the point.  These days we talk about grace and love and mercy and the cross and baby Jesus and peace…here we’re reminded early in church history to include HOLY.  From the Old Testament to the New, He hasn’t changed.  

2) Speaking of HOLY, why did Jesus come in the first place?  He didn’t come to teach, heal, love or help.  He came to die. He came to die as the only remedy for our sin problem before our thrice holy God. 

3) As Jesus came to give His life, He not only saved us from eternal loss but also redeemed us from lawlessness now.  He enables us to get it right even when others around us indulge their passions.  Ananias and Sapphira remind us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  Yes you’re saved by grace, but that grace wasn’t cheap.  You’re called to holy living.  

Two Christians who made bad choices have a message for us today during this Advent Season.  God used their lives by shortening them dramatically; an enduring testimony to the church that secret sins are no secret to Him.  In light of such, give it all you’ve got as you serve Christ, both now and throughout the year:  He is worthy of no less.  As Peter said elsewhere:  

But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 

- Pastor Colin

The Bible: Why Eyewitnesses Matter

Christianity is just a bunch of ancient myths and the Bible was put together around a campfire. 

Ever hear that?  It’s a common assertion leveled against those who actually believe the Bible.  Trouble is, it’s entirely untenable.  

At Derwood Bible Church we’ve just started a series on the book of Acts, which chronicles the history of the early Christian church.  It is striking how Luke, the author, is determined to establish the historicity of his accounts.  In his own words, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.  A highly trained medical doctor, Luke leaves no stone unturned to ensure his readers know that his historical presentation is established upon eyewitness accounts. 

He begins his account referencing Christ’s resurrection:  [Jesus] presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days. The Apostle Paul elsewhere mentions Him appearing to a crowd of 500.  When Peter preaches, he simply assumes everyone knows about Jesus' life and ministry:  Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.  

Luke often cites those who were eyewitnesses. Consider these phrases, found in the first two chapters alone: as they were looking on…out of their sight…and while they were gazing…this Jesus will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven…you crucified…of that we all are witnesses…this Jesus whom you crucified.

To say the Biblical accounts were old myths strewn together overlooks the obvious, not to mention the painstaking measures taken by the authors and scribes to ensure accuracy of content and transmission.  The Biblical text itself – and the authors – simply do not allow for such a glaring caricature.  It is understood that the miraculous nature of some Biblical accounts can be challenging to accept, and of course the authors wrote within the framework of ANE historians.   But a blanket statement that the Bible is a collection of fairy tales loosely preserved and over exaggerated is to ignore plain facts and the intent of the authors.  The Christian message is taken by faith, of course, but it is built upon well documented and assimilated historical events.  It is for this reason the Apostle Paul told the Corinthian church:  I passed on to you that which was of first importance:  that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again, according to the Scriptures.  He boldly declared all of Christianity to be wrapped up in one historical event:  the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

And that makes no sense if it didn’t actually happen.  Not to mention overwhelmingly attested to. 

- Pastor Colin

Declaring His Excellencies!

The Apostle Peter gives us all a compelling personal mission statement:      

that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

The sole purpose of your life is to declare to others the AWESOME God that you serve. To speak often, and to speak well, of your Savior.  

Imagine if true Christians were not known for what we’re against, but for the fact that we can’t stop talking about Jesus.  How He loves us.  How He’s given hope.  Given us perspective and purpose.  How He’s rearranged our priorities.  His holiness, majesty and beauty.  How He perfectly fulfills over 300 direct prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures.  How He suffered and died for our sins, freeing us to love others freely and without condition…no matter who you are. How we now live with an eternal perspective and no longer run after what others do.

How do I do this?  First, the decision is mine to be conscious of Him every day, moment by moment.  What’s on my mind is what you’re going to hear me talk about. It’s a settled decision and conviction on my part. Second, I look for and take up the opportunity to give Him praise in all circumstances, not matter where I am, not being afraid of what others may think. 

Why do I do this?  Because we’re people for his own possession.  Once we had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy.  Do we need any other reason?  “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, than no sacrifice is to great for me to make for Him.”  Or, “he is no fool who looses what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose”.  Our eternal destiny has been rewritten because He loves me and died for my forgiveness. 

No matter what your circumstances, you can ALWAYS praise Him, even in the desert.  Because your life is a vapor and the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared to the eternal glories ahead of you.  Because He loves you, and, suffered for you.  I don’t mean to overlook your struggles, but, I hope to point you to victory even when you see none.  Make it your ambition to speak of His excellencies because He has called you to His marvelous light! 

-      Pastor Colin

P.S.  I chose the picture of Kaylee because she’s not afraid to speak up and tell you what’s on her mind!


Preparing to Suffer

In taking a short break from writing a paper for seminary I came across this little gem titled "How Christians Prepare for Suffering". Seems like a topic that is always applicable. Pointing to Paul as the example the Parnell makes these points (which you should go check out):

1. Count it all, that is everything that might be labeled "gain", past, present, and future and call it "loss".

2. Once that is done you've now entered "normal" Christianity. Paul was not an exception but an example to follow. We over-privileged Americans need to wrestle hard with this one.

3. Remind ourselves continually that Jesus is better. Better than what? Everything. Those people and things that are most precious to you - Jesus comes first. He is better. Thus we can call it all "loss".

4. Love Christ today.

He ends with this, "It will not minimize the pain. Not at all. But we will know, even in the darkest night, that Jesus is our God and all, that he is our Rock and treasure, that he is enough." This is how we prepare to suffer.


Some Food for Thought and Action

I just had this article, Raising Kids in a Pornified Culture, forwarded to me. It's one of those that I desperately wish I didn't need to read but unfortunately can't ignore. Part of me just wants to put my kids in a bubble and not let them come out until, well I'm not sure when, maybe never. But that doesn't do them any favors. This is our reality so the question becomes, how do I prepare them? Point one really captures the heart of the issue: Aim to give our kids a huge view of God who is gloriously delightful. I love that. Nielson, the author, provides some really solid, practical points to think through. Ignoring the issue is not an option.


How Do I Measure Spiritual Growth?

Pursuing goals requires specific and measurable markers.  “I want to drop 10 lbs.” is better than “I want to loose weight”.  I want to nail Bach’s Orchestral Suite No 2 in B minor” sure beats “I want to be a better flute player this year.”   Now shift this to spiritual pursuits.  Our goal is to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But how do we measure our progress?  “I feel closer to Jesus” is too subjective, and our feelings can be deceptive anyway.   There are specific areas of our life which will yield a good read on our spiritual growth; consider these five and drop in the dipstick… 

God’s Word

Busyness, sin and excessive entertainment:  these three will always keep you from the Word.    We blame poor discipline and a tight schedule, but the truth is that our lack of desire to feast on Scripture can often be traced back to the three stooges listed above.  It is in His presence that transformation actually takes place.  Not reformation, which is trying to change by our own efforts, but transformation.  Peter tells us to crave the Word as a newborn does milk.  I know I am growing in my walk if I want more of His Word:  I want to know what God says and I want to live it out.  And the peace we receive from parking our minds here is worth the price of admission in itself.    


Remember counting down the days to our birthday or Christmas?  There were those toys we had to have.  The older we get, some things just begin to matter less.  But don’t confuse growing older with growing deeper, in Him.   On a spiritual plane we are constantly reminded that the “stuff” of this world never really satisfies.   Fame and reputation?  That’s great, but I’d rather GOD’S commendation:  Well done, good and faithful servant.  Big house, nice car, more stuff?  Sorry, my inheritance is imperishable, undefiled, unfading and kept in heaven for me.  Besides, whom have I in heaven by you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of heart and my portion forever.  I know I’m growing in Christ when I develop a “care less” attitude towards the things I used to run after. 

Love, Love, Love!

One of the two tests for Christian assurance is love. Do we love God and do we love others?  Sometimes we feel guilted into doing things; that’s not Christian maturity.  Christian maturity is when we stand still long enough to perceive God’s amazing love for us and in turn, begin to love and serve Him because we just can’t imagine it any other way.  We stretch ourselves in our relationships and actually try to love our unlovables.   We want to do the right thing, even when no one’s looking!  Why?  Because we are conscious of, and rely on, the love He has for us.  We can’t help ourselves.  It’s a slow transformation, but it’s beautiful to see. 


While love is the first test of assurance, obedience is the second.  Are you walking the walk?  Are you gaining victory now, over sins that set you back five years ago?  Do you want to do the right thing, even if you don’t always hit the mark?  Obedience matters:  how are you doing here?  God will not take you to the next level until you own and obey what He’s already shown you.  


Before we knew Christ, we lived for the here and now. Even our best attempts to live for something more was, at best, a stab in the dark.  As we grow in Him, we are reminded that our life is but a vapor and we are living for something much bigger:  eternity.  Not only that, we are laying our lives down each day so that HE gets the glory and others are drawn to HIM in us.  This brings comfort in the valley and keeps us from wasting our life on things that don’t matter.  How is your perspective developing?  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  

A couple things to keep in mind here.  GOD is the one at work in us, conforming us to His image.  He requires that we work out our salvation with fear and trembling but we also know that He is faithful and will not give up on us.  And, growth often occurs in the valley:  in our darkest night, our deepest travails and through our most persistent doubts and questions.  He is faithful. 

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  

Pastor Colin

Why Did Jesus Come, Anyway?

This time of year, people often say to remember the “real reason for the season”.  It’s great to disengage from the pressing consumerism during the Holiday Season, but if Jesus is the reason for the season…why did He come, anyway? 

The Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil. 

That’s why.  

The disciple closest to Jesus wrote these words, and he hit the nail on the head.   Broken relationships, sad goodbyes, disease, broken dreams, war, and famine:  there is a lot of hurt in the world.  We’re kidding ourselves if we shrug off the reality of death and the pain that we often experience in life.  God’s Word makes a direct correlation between sin and the heartache we see.  

God is not distant or disengaged from our suffering.  That baby born so long ago in a manger was named 

Immanuel, ‘God with us’. 


Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace.  

Why?  Because God Himself showed up in our world.  The one who made us lived among us.  Termed the Incarnation, that baby in a manger was the Son of God. 

The reason He came was to bring healing, peace, and joy: to reconcile us to God.  In our own sinful state we could not possibly approach our Creator or enjoy friendship with the One who is perfected in holiness. So Jesus bridged that chasm.  

When the Apostle John said the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil, he used a strong and violent word.  The grip of darkness was powerful and pervasive.  Only the Son of God could crush our adversary underfoot. 

The Christmas and Easter story go together, you can’t have one without the other.   Born sinless via a virgin, Christ made His lowly entrance with animals; He would later suffer and die for us on a cruel cross.  Freeing sinners is messy.  Roman crucifixion is no laughing matter.  But He did it because He loves us:  

For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 

We celebrate Christmas to remember the wonder of God living among us and not leaving us without remedy or HOPE.  We remember that the reason He came was to save us from our sin and misery, replacing condemnation with forgiveness and eternal life. He was born to die, and His victory was sure and it was complete when He was resurrected after His suffering on the cross:  

He disarmed the [demonic] rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Christ. 

Christ came because we stand in need of mercy and forgiveness. 

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 

For those who know Jesus as Savior and Lord, here is the hope that we hold so dear, which that little baby ultimately brought about:   

And [God] said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.

Merry Christmas, 

Pastor Colin

A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of my favorites. I remember as a kid seeing the special logo that came up before a seasonal cartoon came on and getting super excited that I was about to watch cartoons at night! It was a special treat that is lost on kids today who can find cartoons 24/7 if they have cable. And so Christmas was the season of joy.

Now, since I grew old enough to watch cartoons and pick up the message behind the slap-stick, it is pretty amazing to me how critical Charles Schultz was of the commercialism of the holidays. I can’t say I disagree. With “Black Friday” being the symbol of insanity (to this introverted personality at least) and at least displaying how nasty people can get for a piece of metal and plastic, the question has to be asked, “What’s so great about Christmas”?

The angels answered that questions definitively.

    And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold,
    I bring you good news of great joy that will be for
    all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in
    the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
    12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a
    baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."
    13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude
    of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

    14 "Glory to God in the highest,
        and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"
                                      Luke 2:10-14 (ESV)

Christmas is great because:

  1. There is no need to fear. Because of Christ all whose faith is in Him are forgiven. We are free from our sin.
  2. This message is filled with good news leading to joy overflowing. Circumstances can’t change that. They can only force us to cling to it all the tighter. Joy comes from Christ, not the world around us even with the good it contains and despite the bad.
  3. God sent His only Son to be man…fully man. He experienced the same kind of hurt. He was betrayed by one of his closest companions. He was ridiculed and humiliated. He was abused in horrific ways. He prayed, “Father forgive them.” He loved us while we were enemies. He showed us that being human doesn’t mean we can’t love unconditionally.
  4. True praise of God is possible and even expected from us, as broken as we are, and one day He will return and true and complete Shalom will come with him. All will be put to right.

Yes there is much to rejoice in this Christmas. Don’t get lost in the rest.