A mature community cultivates a lifestyle of love in the midst of market-style exchanges, a lifestyle of joy in the midst of manufactured desire, peace in the midst of fragmentation, patience in the midst of productivity, kindness in the midst of self-sufficiency, goodness in the midst of self-help, faithfulness in the midst of impermanence, gentleness in the midst of aggression, and self-control in the midst of addiction.

J.R. Woodward, Creating a Missional Culture (p. 31)

One of the most incredible passages of Scripture, and one to which I return often, is Revelation 21. It is the story of the consummation of redemption history, of the bride of Christ descending from heaven – walking down the aisle, as it were – for her marriage to the “Lamb who was slain.” The imagery is rich and profound, bursting with anticipation of the new creation, of the world made right, and of the end of the tyrannical reign of sin and death.

In verse 6, the unseen God shouts from his glorious throne, “Behold! I am making all things new!” A proclamation. A promise. God is making all things new. The mountains and rivers will be made new. Not different mountains and rivers; the same, but renewed. Purified. Cleansed.

The same is true for us. There will not be different people; there will be the same people, but we will be renewed, purified, cleansed, redeemed, comforted. This is what awaits us in Christ. But you don’t have to wait for it to happen all at once in heaven. This is what God is up to right now. God is making a new you, and he is doing it through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit today.

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As you can see, I’m working on an overhaul of my website. There is still a lot of work to do, but I am going to go public with it anyway. There was one snafu that occurred during the update process, and that was the unintended emails that went out to website subscribers. If you got those emails, I apologize. I hate to fill up your inbox like that, and I believe that I have taken the appropriate steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

If you have any feedback or questions about the new site, please feel free to send me an email. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for visiting, and I look forward to providing many new posts in the future.

My last sermon as a pastor at Grace Church was from John 5:16-30. It is a rich passage in which Jesus argues for his authority to heal and judge, and I was only able to scratch the surface of it in the thirty minutes I had to preach. There was so much that I wanted to get into but couldn’t, including how Jesus referred to his resurrection, the closeness of Father and Son, and just exactly what he meant when he spoke of “life.”

Sermon-Quote-Autonomy-1Instead, I talked about why the Jewish leaders were persecuting him and how tightly they held to Sabbath-keeping. There was almost nothing that a Jew could have done in those days that would have been more offensive, more disgraceful, to both his heritage and his people than to break the Sabbath. And this is precisely what Jesus had done when he healed a man who had been crippled for 38 years, and then told him to carry his mat home with him on the Sabbath. Because of his blasphemy and sacrilegious disobedience of the Sabbath laws, Jesus was labeled a dangerous heretic.

The Sabbath had become the dominant means by which faithful Jews identified themselves. It was a primary cultural identity marker, so deeply ingrained in their way of life and thinking that it could never be called into question. We have something like that here in America: Freedom. Freedom is the American Way. Freedom is the American Truth. Freedom is the American Life. But, by making freedom a cultural idol, we have distorted and perverted it.

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I was getting ready for Zeke’s birthday party – it was the first of his birthdays since he went home to Jesus – when my phone rang. Though I didn’t recognize the number, it was from the 614 area code and I thought a friend from Columbus might be calling to check in on our family on Zeke’s birthday. Instead, it was a man named Yogi, a pastor with the Christian & Missionary Alliance who was planting a church in the Columbus area. He had gotten my name from Pastors Dean and Troy from LifePoint Church, and he wanted to see if I had any interest in exploring the possibility of joining him on this church plant.

Though Breena and I had just bought a wonderful house in our dream neighborhood in Toledo, I said that I was always willing to explore something that God might have me do. So we talked more the next day, and then Breena and I met him and his wife, Joy, for dinner a couple of weeks later. It seemed to all of us that God might be doing something here, so we agreed to pray and stay in contact.

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