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Earlier, I offered the first part of a simple test to help us determine whether the gospel message we’re trusting in is the same gospel that Jesus revealed and Paul preached. It’s a simple test. The first two questions were: Does this gospel cause me to fix my eyes exclusively on Jesus? And Does this gospel increase my dependence on Jesus? This article addresses the last two questions. If your answers to the four questions are all yes, then rejoice, for you are living on pure, undiluted grace!

3. Does this gospel empower me to overcome sin?  There are two ways to deal with sin; (1) preach law or (2) reveal grace. A law-based message will stir up the flesh in a human-powered quest for a change in behavior. This approach is inherently flawed - for the purpose of the law is to...

I once heard a preacher say. “80 to 90% of Christians are unacquainted with the gospel of grace.” That estimate is probably not far off the mark as evidenced by the large numbers of believers who are still trying to earn what God has freely given them. If you were to ask these people about grace they would declare, “Yes, I am saved by grace! I thank God for His grace!” But by their works they testify that God’s grace is still not enough. Grace may have gotten them started, but now it’s up to them to finish. Having begun with the Spirit they are now trying to attain their goal by human effort (Gal 3:3). Instead of working out what it means to be saved, they are working hard to stay saved.

How does this happen? Usually someone tells them that God won’t accept them or bless them or be pleased with them unless they perform for Jesus. Dead religious works are sold...

 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Embracing the Scandal of Love

Written by Tim Cole

Today’s western culture loves a good scandal. Entire genres of television cash in on our appetite for scandal – including soap operas and most reality shows. Scandal even drives much our 24/7 news cycle and plays a role in shaping our perception of reality about the world at large and our own lives at home.

Scandal sells, in part because it captures our individual sense of guilty shame and projects it at a safe distance onto the lives of the real (or fake) folks on television or in the news stories. Few of us need someone to ... 

Wednesday, 09 September 2015

Hope that Holds Me

Written by Dawn Cole

Have you noticed how desperate the world is for a little hope? It is as if someone pulled the string on the sweater that is our world and the whole thing is unraveling and no one seems to know what to do or how to respond. The scope of what is happening is so overwhelming that it is easy to throw up our hands and repeat the mantra we hear so often, “the world is going to hell in a hand basket”. That must be one big hand basket. And who came up with that saying anyway? The next question is, “why do we believe that”? That certainly isn’t how God feels about things. He is as full of hope, passion, optimism and expectation as He as has been or ever will be. I believe God loves the challenge of the impossible. But lets be honest, the only ones ...

Wednesday, 02 September 2015

Tuning Your Spiritual Horn

Written by Tim Cole

As one who has played multiple instruments and sang vocally over many years, I have had the privilege of participating in many levels of bands, orchestras and choirs. Those experiences have taught me a great deal about life, about interacting with others, and about how to have a voice even when you are just one among many.

Preparation and skill go hand in hand, and both play a significant role in how much ... 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Grace Window

Written by Dawn Cole

Our nation is in one of the greatest battles in her existence.  We have survived the revolution, the civil war and other world conflicts over the years.  Each one has demonstrated the strength of commitment to a cause and the innate desire for freedom.  This not a commentary on the pros and cons of war, but we are currently engaged in one whether we want to be or not.  You and I were put on the planet for such a time as this, because you and I have the opportunity to win another battle for freedom.

In 1990 a man named Luis Bush began a movement to pray for the 10/40 window.  This is the area of the world that is known to great socioeconomic challenges and the least amount of Christian influence.  There are more distinctly non-christian religions that are practiced in that part of the globe than in any other. So, that region became ...

Wednesday, 01 July 2015

Got a Question for You

Written by Dawn Cole

Have you ever asked God questions?  I believe He actually loves answering questions.  Conversations are constructed out of questions and answers.  Have you ever had lunch with someone and felt like the conversation was work?  You know, you ask a question and get a “yes” or “no” answer.  Sometimes, we would prefer God to answer us in a simple “yes” or “no” but instead He often answers our questions with a question.  Why would He do that to us?  Because you are the object of His greatest affection and He wants to spend more time with you than would be involved if He just said, “yes” or “no” and He is not interested in just giving us orders or directing us as one of His loyal subjects ...

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Your Resting Place

Written by Tim Cole

Rest is a critical human need.  God designed our physical and emotional beings to enable us to accomplish great things, but they weren’t designed to work 24/7. They were designed to “work” like batteries that have a finite amount of energy and resource. After discharging that energy, batteries need to be recharged and replenished before the next challenge or task.

Our secular and church cultures often work against us getting enough rest ...

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Without Him, I Can Do Nothing

Written by Jeanni Davis

We all grow up hearing many voices - our own, our parent's, the world's, the Devil's, and hopefully, God's. We struggle to know the differences. God wants to train us to recognize His voice. In the gospel of John, Jesus tells us that His sheep know His voice and another voice we will not follow. In our Christian walk, Papa God gives us that encouraging pat on the back when…

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Making the Call

Written by Tim Cole

Not everything that occurs in our natural lives directly correlates to a deep spiritual truth about ourselves (that would deny the presence of other natural and spiritual parties vying for influence over us). I do believe, however, that God will often use specific vignettes from our natural lives as revelational tools for our understanding and growth.

I had one of those moments recently when I pulled my lawn mower out of the garage...

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