China and the Liberated Spirit

Beijing, China, November 27, 2022
Photo by Thomas Peter/Reuters

In the last few days, protests have happened in China over COVID restrictions, among other things. It seems like things have settled with looser rules in the last few hours, but I greatly hope the protesters in China are the front end of a liberated spirit that will resist government overreach. If reports are accurate that children are taken from their parents to confine COVID, that is an assault against the most basic human instinct to care for one’s child.

In every culture, self-determination and family welfare cannot be repressed indefinitely because those qualities reflect the character of God. I pray for the Chinese people.

There is always hope

What a way to end Thanksgiving weekend! We baptized nine people and started Advent with a focus on hope.

This message calls us to lift our heads to look for Christ, even when the darkness seems oppressive and overwhelming. We can always have hope when we look to Him. I pray this message will infuse hope into you. If you feel the emotion of hopelessness, please know this is not permanent and not your identity.

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We stand on the Word of God

When at its best, the church offers Jesus, the Word of God. 

The word of man is trendy, but the Word of God is tested.
The word of man is consensual; but the Word of God is confrontational.
The word of man is circumstantial, but the Word of God is unchangeable.
The word of man is temporal, but the Word of God is eternal.

We stand on the Word of God. 

Prayer at Unity Service on November 18, 2022

What Does the Church Offer the World?

In every generation, despite the cultural environment, the church offers certain things to the world. In Sunday’s message, I proclaimed five things the church provides the world in every generation and setting. These are:

  1. The Word of God
  2. Sacraments (Water Baptism and Communion)
  3. The Presence of God
  4. Tangible Love (serving the needs of humanity)
  5. Hope (The reign of Christ).

This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a great starting place to identify the unique call of the church. We are different from the other earthly entities because we are the gateway to the divine.

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Launchpoint Church in Lebanon, Tennessee

Earlier this week, I had the great privilege of sharing at the leadership banquet for Launchpoint Church. Launchpoint has such a great community doing impactful ministry for Jesus in Lebanon, Tennessee.

My friends Jim and Angela Kubic are so genuine, loving, and pastoral. They love their people and city, so being part of their annual team celebration was an honor. This church may be hidden from notoriety now, but it will be known for its Kingdom impact as the years progress.

What is the church?

I always love what we do at CIL Church, but our services seem to deepen in meaning and impact this time of year. On Sunday, I shared a teaching titled What is the Church? This teaching points out characteristics of the Church that will inspire you to love Jesus and people more. It was another message to build God’s culture at CIL Church. 

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May politics lead us to prayer

Many of us are in different places in the political process. My youngest son voted for the first time yesterday, and he is engaged now with the process and results in an entirely new way. It’s refreshing to see him discover first-hand our unique system of government. Others disillusioned by the current political climate may have voted dutifully while wrestling with cynicism. Many did not vote at all.

Regardless of where you may be on the political process, here are some facts for consideration:

  1. Civic decisions will be made by those in power regardless of my posture towards politics.
  2. Since politicians will continue to make decisions regardless of my attitude towards them and their role, it is a good thing for quality Christian candidates to run for political office.
  3. We are called by Scripture to pray for all government leaders despite our posture towards them. So irritation we may feel towards a politician is an opportunity to pray for them. Any unhealthy adulation of a politician is also a call to put Jesus first through prayer. If we are too enamored with a politician, we need to seek the Lord for our potential idolatry.

Through these opportunities to pray, let politics lead you to spiritual formation.

Devotional thoughts from this week

Custer National Cemetery, Crow Agency, Montana (November 3, 2022)

Here are some devotional thoughts I have shared on other platforms this week. I pray one of these thoughts lifts you today.

A vision of God’s love
Your life is significant because of who you are, not just what you accomplish. When you find people who love you apart from your success, you find a vision of God’s love. Cherish those people; they are your gifts.

Joseph points us to a sovereign God
Isn’t the story of Joseph inspiring?

Here is a prayer connected to Joseph’s story that that lifted my spirit:

“Yet you had a plan. You moved a youth from prisoner to prime minister. Let me see your providential hand in the affairs of my life, even as Joseph confessed that though his brothers had planned evil against him, “God planned it for good” (Gn 50:20). Amen.” – Dr. George Guthrie

The hero we overlook
Your hero is not the person you pay to be near through tickets and fees, but often the one close by you overlook. They are so great, you probably don’t have the wisdom to recognize their value. God, open our eyes to the mentors among us.

Influencers in the Family

The weekly gathering of saints is the soul of humanity. Worship music, Scripture, the passing of the peace, and the sacraments are otherworldly. We access the gateway to heaven through the church, making our weekly worship indispensable.

The team and I have loved teaching the Philippians these last few months, and we concluded the series on Sunday with our 19th teaching in this verse-by-verse journey. I gave a message titled “Influencers in the Family,” and this teaching inspired us to be people of influence. It was a life-giving service, so I hope you watch it and receive it.

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