It’s On My Heart – A Man in Two Places

October 11, 2022

I suspect my transition from MLBC to First Jefferson is taking a bit longer than most pastoral moves for a couple of reasons, but the fact is, I am, in some ways, a man in two places. I am very much here in Arlington and with you in this season of saying good-bye and probably closing the church. I am also excited about the days ahead in a very different community with a very different style of ministry than inner-city work. The past couple of weeks have had a few times of strong emotions – a mix of sadness, disappointment that MLBC did not turn around and that I did not see a lot of visible fruit, mental tiredness, expectancy about Jefferson, and the question of whether that season will produce different fruit. This is some of what is on my heart.

Something else on my heart is you, MLBC as a church and as individuals. You are walking through a time of uncertainty and sadness as a church, in addition to the uncertainties and challenges of most of your life stages as you age and as your  community continues to be unfamiliar to you – and now looking for a new church. You are on my heart as I realize some of you may not have anyone checking on you anymore, and that grieves me because I love you. You are on my heart as I hope you will continue to dig down into Christ and walk well with Him in the days ahead – the same thing that has been my burden every week for almost 15 years.

Another thing on my heart is gratitude. I am thankful to the Lord for allowing me to serve here, shaping me and growing me, for sustaining me and refining me. I am thankful for a whole list of accomplishments and areas of personal and professional  development I cannot enumerate here. I enumerated these in my own prayer time a few weeks back. I am thankful for relationships built and time with you. I am thankful for the opportunities you and MLBC overall have given me to live here and serve, to walk with you through a challenging season, and to further my own education and do some    outside ministry that I pray will further the Kingdom for years to come. Thank you for your love and for a long season of walking together.

My deepest desire for the years here at MLBC is that God’s Kingdom has been furthered in your lives, in my life, and in our community. My heartbeat is that, hopefully, you and I are more conformed to the likeness of Jesus and those we interact with get more fully pointed to Jesus through our lives. Hunger for the Word, devote yourselves to prayer, surrender to Jesus.


By Faith in Jesus – The Need for Good News

September 27, 2022

Romans 1:18-32  Have you ever seen things unfold badly that were set in motion through poor action or neglect to act? Here, we find the need for good news and some of what is going on as things seem to be coming apart.

  • God’s Truth Rejected – If you have ever had a moment of nature-inspired awe and worship, you get what these verses are talking about in terms of nature showing God to us. It is not the specific Gospel, but it is that which should show us the reality of God and the need to worship and obey Him. However, people have suppressed the knowledge of the truth and gone our own way because God’s way is not what humans tend to want. Note the bad trades in these verses. When we trade off God and His way, it is a bad trade with horrible results.
  • God’s Wrath Expressed – We find the situation of fallen humanity in rebellion against God. They are futile and become fools. They are darkened in mind, deluded in understanding, and detoured from the path of life. One commentator notes that when people turn away from God, they become bankrupt theologically and morally. Thus, just as the righteousness from God is revealed in the    Gospel, the wrath of God is revealed in His giving over of people to certain things. This is not wrath of a human and vindictive sort but the perfectly holy wrath of God. He has given people over to sinful desires, shameful lusts, and a depraved mind. Thus unfolds all sorts of evil – evil of heart and action.

We cannot list the evil in this passage here, but make a list on your own. This explains what is going on in our culture, but Chapter 2 will remind us to be careful with harsh condemnation since we also sin.


By Faith in Jesus – God’s Good News

September 27, 2022

Romans 1:1-17  As we begin our walk through Romans, I want to suggest that God’s story is good news, and it was written for your inclusion by faith in Jesus.

  • There is good news (vv. 1-7) – In this section, we find God’s good news promise from long ago – a promise to deal with our need for something to make us right with Him. We find His good news provision in the provision of Jesus, the Savior. And, we find encouragement regarding our participation in the good news. God loves us as we are but wants to not leave us there, and the one way He has provided to come to Him is Jesus.
  • To grow in and share (vv. 8-15) – We discover some things about Gospel ministry that helps us grow in Jesus by way of example here. We find Gospel ministry involves whole-hearted prayer, whole-hearted edification that is mutually upbuilding, and whole-hearted proclamation. God’s saving work is not by human effort, but it calls human cooperation. And, Gospel work has a more substantial purpose than simply getting us to heaven and having us attend church.
  • Because it’s God’s power for salvation (vv. 16-17) – Look at and reflect on this assertion that the Gospel is God’s power, and that salvation is not just getting saved but is the whole process. Also notice the faith component. So, think about your God story and how God’s power has worked in your life. Now, recall, this power is not for our purposes and worldly advancement but for the salvation purposes of God – justification, sanctification, and glorification. The result of this power is righteousness in Jesus.

There is a call on each life to come into God’s story he began writing long ago and to flesh out that God-story He wants to continue writing in your life by faith in Jesus.


Jesus’ Life in Us – Themes From 1-3 John: Fellowship

August 24, 2022


Now that we have walked through 1-3 John, I want to take a wide-lens view and look at themes that emerge in these letters, the fourth being fellowship.

  • Fellowship With God (1 John 1:3, 1:7, 3:19-24) – Because of Jesus and in Jesus, we have fellowship with God. That fellowship is to be characterized by His goodness (light) and us growing in Jesus’ purifying work in our lives – fellowship with an impact. The call is to abide in Jesus, so we walk in close and impactful fellowship day by day. People who want fellowship with God may try many things, but it is found only in Jesus.
  • Fellowship Among Believers (1 John 1:3, 2:10-11, 5:14-19, 2 John 1-3, and 3 John 9-10) – There is a family connection fellowship in Jesus because we share in who He is and what He has done. When we come to the cross, we come together in Jesus. This fellowship involves concern and prayer for one another in walking in the truth and seeing Jesus protect us from work of the evil one and keep us from sin. However, sometimes, where there should be fellowship in Jesus, there is    dysfunction flowing from sin and selfishness.
  • Disfellowship From False Teachers (1 John 1:3, 2:18-19, 2 John 10-11) – Some proclaim falsehood regarding the person and work of Jesus, so we need to guard our influences and have in our hearts what we might call a Biblical truth filter so that we do not detour into falsehood, support falsehood, or allow those we influence to stray into falsehood.

First John 1:3 and 5:20 catch the overarching theme of fellowship with God and each other. How is your fellowship with God, and what is it producing? How is your connection with other believers? How are you guarding your influences and those you influence?


Jesus’ Life in Us – Themes From 1-3 John: Love

August 24, 2022


Now that we have walked through 1-3 John, I want to take a wide-lens view and look at   themes that emerge in these letters, the third being love – the love of God within us.

  • Love’s Gift (1 John 4:9-10 and 1 John 3:1a) – When we understand God’s holiness, the problem of sin, eternity, and the priority of the spiritual we will understand the reality of God’s great love in meeting our great need.
  • Love’s Overflow (1 John 5:1-3, 2 John 2-3, 3 John 1) – When we enter God’s family, there is expected to be a sense of family connection and family love for God and for one another, as well as obedience to God. God’s love is to overflow in our lives because of Jesus’ life in us.
  • Love’s Command (1 John 3:11, 3:23, 4:11, 4:21 and 2 John 5-6) – Mutual love among Christians is our defining mark, and it is a commanded and continual moral obligation. It is not a fond feeling so much as a disposition of care.
  • Love’s Example (1 John 3:16-18) – We might ask, “If God’s command is love for each other, what does it look like?” John points us to Jesus’ example of self-sacrifice for the welfare of those in need.
  • Love’s Evidence (1 John 2:15b, 4:7-8, 4:19-20) – Christians are to manifest the love of God we’ve received by loving each other, which demonstrates some measure of God to one another and the world and furthers God’s purpose in others’ lives and our world. Love gives evidence of being in Christ.
  • Love’s Process – 1 John 2:5, 2:10, 4:12, and 4:16b-18) – God’s love, extended to us in Jesus, has the goal of producing Christlikeness in us, and this is a process.

The call is to receive love’s gift, live in love’s overflow, obey love’s command, follow love’s example, show love’s evidence, and cooperate with love’s process.


Jesus’ Life in Us – Themes From 1-3 John: Truth

August 09, 2022


Now that we have walked through 1-3 John, I want to take a wide-lens view and look at themes that emerge in these letters, the second being that of truth – the truth of the person and work of Jesus Christ and what that calls for in our lives.


  • Truth to Know – Christian faith is not primarily subjective, but is historical, doctrinal, and confessional. It involves information to know and the Jesus of the New Testament to follow and His new life to experience as we respond to that truth.
  • Truth to Receive – Responses to the truth include denial, rejection, filtering, and distortion, but the only valid response is to receive that truth and, with it, Jesus as He is presented in the New Testament, with all that means. This is not simply receiving as true but entering covenant with God based on this truth and responding to the truth in surrender.
  • Truth to Abide in and Guard – The Gospel truth is our foundation to stand on and the lens through which we look at life. Therefore, we must guard against falsehood and be careful with our influences and the influences we allow into those we are responsible for guiding in the faith.
  • Truth to Walk in and Live Out – Walking in the truth means we line our lives up with who Jesus is and what the Book says, and we allow the truth to shape and guide us in every area. Construct good theology, then lean into it.
  • Truth to Partner With – We partner with the truth in our own growth and faithfulness, in fellowship and support of one another, and in furthering the Kingdom purpose and message of Jesus.


The call on us is to stay alert and discerning, trusting the fundamentals of the faith, the counsel of the Bible, and Holy Spirit’s confirmation of the Bible’s truth in our lives – then live it out.


Whom Can God Support?

July 19, 2022

2 Chronicles 16:1-9  Has anyone ever asked for your support in an endeavor, and how decide whether to back them? Have you ever searched for something thoroughly because you really wanted to find it? Have you considered God might be searching?

  • The Search in On – God is searching the world over. The search is extensive and inclusive, covering everyone everywhere. The search is deep and probing – down to the heart level. The search is purposeful. God is looking for people to support in His purposes for their lives.
  • The Heart That is Completely Committed – I would suggest that heart has a Godly attitude, a Godly agenda, a Godly allegiance, and is sold out to God all the way.
  • Why Would we Want This? – When our heart is not completely committed to God, we live outside God’s will; are not in tune with His heart, power, and Spirit; are vulnerable to pride and fear; open ourselves to the wrong influences; set up unpleasant consequences; and may respond poorly to conviction and correction. When our heart is completely committed, we find God’s strong support in His purposes that brings His kind of victory.

Some hearts are very nearly completely surrendered and committed. Others are sort of sectioned off with parts committed and others held back. Some hearts struggle with surrender and commitment because of distraction, hurt, confusion, or disappointment. We might even    convince ourselves we don’t need His strong support. But, there is a battle with high stakes, and the Lord is searching.


Jesus’ Life in Us – Themes From 1-3 John: Difference

July 19, 2022


Now that we have walked through 1-3 John, I want to step back and take a wide-lens view and look at three themes that emerge in these letters, the first being that of difference or contrast between the born-again and the lost.

  • Different Character and Disposition – The born-again Christian is to have a different character and disposition, and I hope that, as you think back, you can see how Jesus has produced these in you. That character and disposition is to be one of light instead of darkness (righteousness instead of sin). It is to be love instead of hate. It is to be obedience to God instead of disobedience.
  • Different Place, Power, and Priority – The born-again Christian is in a place of and has access to forgiveness of sin and fellowship with God and other believers. He or she has a new power for overcoming sin by means of faith. And, there is, for the Christian, a different priority than that of the world – the priority of the things of God and His Kingdom.
  • Different Family – The truly born-again Christian is in a new and different family – the family of God. That comes through faith in Jesus and receiving the witness about Jesus from the Bible and the Holy Spirit.
  • Cautions When we are Different – When we are different because of Jesus, there may be opposition we face; there are false teachings to guard against, and we can become dulled in our experience of that difference. We also may become prideful.

What difference has Jesus made along the lines of character and disposition; place, power, and priority; and family connection and likeness in your life? We can celebrate what He has done and ask Him to continue shaping us.


Jesus’ Life in Us – Partnering With the Truth

July 05, 2022

3 John  In this brief letter, we meet three characters, and we discover those who cooperate with the truth of Jesus and those who work against everyone and everything but their own agenda. First (vv. 1-4), partnering with the truth produces Kingdom joy. The bond between John and Gaius is self-sacrificing, Godly love. This love leads John to care about Gaius’ entire being, and Gaius’ spiritual progress allows John to pray God’s blessings on him. Do love others in Christ?  Is your    primary concern their soul and then everything else or everything temporal then their soul? Second (vv. 5-8), partnering with the truth involves a cooperative heart. In the early church, there were wandering teachers / prophets. Some were heretics, others took advantage of the work, while still others were faithful. Notice that there is a connection between hospitable support of true teachers and support of the truth of the Gospel. When we support those who are truly in the      character of God in Christ and doing His work we are partnering with the work of the truth. On the other hand, sometimes people have an uncooperative heart (vv. 9-10). Some people still live life and even do church in their own sinful, fleshly, pushy style because it is what they are used to and it gets done what they want, but that is not the right approach. Finally, in Demetrius we see a life affirmed by the truth of Jesus (v. 12). John writes to affirm Demetrius, explaining that many believers have testified to his genuineness and that the truth of Jesus speaks well of him. Are you living life in a way that the standard of the truth speaks well of you and that those walking in the truth speak well of you? Are you cooperating with the truth in your own life, in the church, and in the world?


Jesus’ Life in Us – Walk in Truth and Love

July 05, 2022

2 John  This brief note of encouragement reminds us to continue in Jesus’ love and truth. The context seems to be that John had met some people from this local church (the recipient of the letter, called the Elect Lady), and there was a concern about false teachers that the church might have or might, in the future, unwittingly support.

In vv. 1-4, we find that continuing in Jesus’ love and truth is related to continuing in Christian fellowship. Christian fellowship is maintained in the connection we have with one another in Christian love and truth. It is enjoyed within the blessings of God’s provision for salvation and daily life in Jesus as we walk in love and truth so God can bless us. And, that fellowship can provide encouragement when we see others living faithfully. Now, let’s look at our call to continue walking in Jesus’ love (vv. 4-6). This simple command is to love one another, but loving one another looks like relating to one another in faithfulness to God’s commands. Truth and love work together to help us walk in purity and Godliness with one another. Finally, there is a lot of deception out there, and we are called to continue in Jesus’ truth (vv. 7-11). Christian faith rises and falls on what you do with the person of Jesus. Jesus was eternally God. In His incarnation, He was completely God and completely human; died to pay for sin; rose from the grave to conquer death and offer us life as our Lord; and lives to be King of our lives and Lord of all. Any teaching that minimizes His place, person, or work is of the antichrist, and we must remain true to Jesus, despite any and all influences to the contrary.

The love and truth of Jesus provide the correct basis for our relationships with each other and the realm in which God can bless and use us, so we must make every effort to continue in the love and truth of Jesus.