“I Believe; Help My Unbelief”

Legalism tempts us to rely on our own strength as the source of our salvation, even if it is the strength of our faith. As Christians, we know that we are justified by faith alone. But that does not mean that faith is what justifies us. Instead, God justifies us through faith in Christ. This is an important distinction. Even as we champion faith, we might easily start to rely on the intensity of our faith instead of the object of our faith. If we trust in the intensity of our faith, we are really trusting in ourselves. But saving faith looks away from self to Christ, and he alone has the power to save us.

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Kobe and Corona

One was a world-famous basketball player. The other is a world-famous virus. Kobe took the world by storm with high-flying dunks, incredible fadeaways, and game-winning jump shots. Corona captured our attention by making hundreds of thousands sick, killing others, and shutting down entire economic systems.

What does Kobe have to do with Corona? Nothing. Except they both awakened the world to the reality of death in recent months. Last month, we watched the world mourn the death of Kobe Bryant. His sudden and unexpected death made us feel death’s sting. Kobe’s tragic end reminded us that death is not natural. We don’t mourn natural processes. We don’t mourn the setting of the sun, the digestion of food, or rain falling from the sky. We mourn death. We mourned Kobe’s death because death is terrible, and people weren’t made to die. Yet we all do. Our lives are short, and Kobe reminded us of that. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. 

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Our Church May Shrink in 2020 and I Am Excited

No pastor wants his church to get smaller, especially a pastor of a small church. Then why am I excited that our small church might get smaller in 2020? Because we would be shrinking for the sake of the gospel. Our desire is to send out two gifted and qualified leaders, and their families, to plant a church in Syracuse, Utah. We will be losing two servant-hearted families in the process, but I could not be more excited about the possibility. Here are a few reasons for my excitement.

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Why I Never Say, “We’re Not a Sunday Only Church”

I’ve heard it said often, “We’re not a Sunday only church.” I know what they mean. They mean the people of their church get together, fellowship, do ministry, and pray throughout the week as well. Of course, these are important aspects of a faithful church. Pastors should want their people to connect and serve outside of the Sunday gathering. If church members gather together on Sundays, but never show hospitality, pray together, do evangelism, or disciple others throughout the week, then the whole church will suffer. Life in the local church should not be confined to Sundays alone.

Then what’s my problem with the statement, “We’re not a Sunday only church”? Why do I never say it if I agree with it in principle? Because I don’t like statements that have the potential to undermine the significance of the Sunday gathering. Some people speak about “Sunday only” because they don’t think the Sunday gathering is that significant. What really matters to them are small groups or missional communities or more “organic fellowship.” In their mind, “We’re not Sunday only,” really means the Sunday gathering is less important than other ways of being the church.

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Is Hell Eternal Conscious Torment?

The doctrine of hell is a serious, sobering, and terrifying doctrine. For some, the thought of hell as eternal conscious torment is too difficult to accept. They would rather believe that hell is temporary. People who die outside of Christ will suffer punishment for a period of time, but eventually, God will cast them into the lake of fire and they will cease to exist. This view is known as annihilationism. But is it biblical?

We cannot allow our emotions to drive our theology. Scripture is our final authority. We must submit to the Bible’s teachings on difficult doctrines trusting that God is God and not us. He is good, righteous, and holy and he always does what is right.

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Kobe Bryant’s Death and a Lesson from Jesus

Even though roughly 150,000 people die every day in our world, we are still shocked when someone dies unexpectedly. I certainly was when I heard that Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash. Eight others died with him including his daughter. All nine people were gone in an instant.

The world focuses on Kobe not because the others were less important but because Kobe was a celebrity. Kobe was a household name for over two decades. We feel like we knew him even if we never met him. We watched him enter the NBA straight out of high school; we saw him win the NBA dunk contest as a rookie; we witnessed him battle against my beloved Utah Jazz in the NBA playoffs early in his career; we watched him win championships and become one of the greatest basketball players of all-time.

I have watched many interviews with different people paying tribute to Kobe and the people who lost their lives in the accident. Each time my eyes well up with tears because the pain of death is real. Many people are left with questions in the wake of a tragedy. I wonder what kind of response is appropriate when the world turns its attention to the brevity of life and the reality of death. I try to imagine what Jesus would say if the news reporters stuck a microphone in his face and asked him to comment on the nine lives that perished in the helicopter crash. What would Jesus say?

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Uncommon Sermon Prep Advice

I’m not sure if it is original to him, but I have heard Alistair Begg tell pastors that sermon preparation should involve at least four components:

  1. Think yourself empty
  2. Read yourself full
  3. Write yourself clear
  4. Pray yourself hot

Anyone who has spent time preparing expository sermons knows the wisdom of this advice. If I might be so bold, I would add a fifth component I have found very helpful during my own sermon preparation:

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