This Month's Theme: Christmas (what else, right?)

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Christmas Carol DYK: “O Come O Come”

The mysterious and melodic flow of the the Christmas hymn “O Come O Come Immanuel” is musically attractive as well as lyrically beautiful. But did you know the song is actually a completion of a Christmas “riddle?” O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son […]

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The “Withusness” of God

I have been reflecting on the name Immanuel. The phrase “God with us.” Those three incredible words that teach us about our Lord’s “with-us-ness.” And my mind and heart have been massaged by the truth contained in them. Follow along for a minute… “God” expresses the truth of Deity. Yes, at Christmas, God came near. […]

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The 12 Days of Christmas (Service Project Style)

Many student groups engage in various Christmas projects each year. In fact, lots of beneficial projects happen annually. Unfortunately, these projects, while they serve a good cause, are typically short-lived and unchallenging. In other words, most are simply too easy. Here’s a way to help your students engage in a project that centers on developing […]

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13-Year-Old Napkin Notes

It was somewhat surreal, and a little surprising. Not that I had expected something really different, but it was still a reason to raise the eye-brows a bit. That was my reaction to an email from Pastor Chris, one that contained a letter and some initial “napkin notes” I wrote back in 2003. The letter […]

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It’s STATurday: Church Numbers

From issues of morality to the importance of missions, here’s what recent surveys and numbers report about either Americans, those who call themselves Christians and what we are part of—the church, or both.* 44% of practicing Christians agree that it’s a good practice for couples to live together outside of marriage. 88% of people who […]

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The Quieting and Correcting Role of Elders: Helpful Links

To help FFCers and other InkLink readers properly understand, not only the textual angle of Titus 1:10-16, but also the practical applications, here are some helpful links. Some I referenced in the message; others I did not. I pray all, however, will be profitable. Love Your Neighbor Enough to Speak the Truth Should Shepherd Expose […]

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Responding to the Murder of Two Police Officers in Des Moines

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When Change Comes Knocking

No one gets to detour unexpected changes. We don’t get to dismiss surprise challenges or uninvited trials. For better or for worse, those three never knock and ask permission. They simply barge in and take a seat. All of us have experienced this at some level. No one is exempt. Don’t assume I’m implying all […]

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Q Zone: Does God Love People in Hell?

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Q Zone: Since God is Sovereign, Why Pray or Witness?

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It’s STATurday: Still an Atrocity

Though we have seen some victories over the last decade in regards to the number of abortions performed, the horribly tragic fact is that it still remains legal in our country. We are in the middle of our own holocaust! Consider the following: 51% of all pregnancies are unplanned.* 40% of those end in abortion.* […]

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Point and Counterpoint: Is it “Through” or “Out”?

The definitive and primary statement regarding saints of God and tribulation, or even more specifically the Tribulation (or hour of testing), is that God will protect them. Of this we are sure! The secondary question usually concerns how—Will God rescue them “out” of that intense time of trouble prior to its beginning via a rapture, […]

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Pure Living in a Pagan Culture

Back in 2011, while preaching through Leviticus,  I addressed a number of sexual issues when I came to chapters 18-22 in a message entitled “Pure Living in a Pagan Culture.” In light of the themes of Jesus’ letters to Pergamum and Thyatira, I thought these excerpts from that sermon were timely and appropriate for God’s […]

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The Ballot Battle: What are the Platforms?

As a follow up to yesterday’s piece on the freedom area of voting, and as a way to respond to many of you who have honest, sincere questions, here are the official platforms, in alphabetical order, of the four parties that garner most of the attention each election cycle. Why list them? So you can […]

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The Ballot Battle: How I Decide

Navigating the turbulent waters of political elections can be hazardous for many Christians, especially when there is deep disagreement even among friends. Add to this the tension and pressure many sense from our society over the obvious collision between the Bible and the culture on specific issues, and voting can almost seem downright dangerous. Okay, […]

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Q Zone: Culture Questions

Got questions? For sure, especially in light of the letters to Pergamum and Thyatira. So in addition to the the three questions I answered this morning from last week, here are four more from today’s service. Q: What are the current pagan practices of this culture today? A: I’d contend these would be on the […]

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It’s a Small World After All (Yeah, Really Small!)

Can you hear me humming it even now? “It’s a small world after all! It’s a small world after all! It’s a small world after all! It’s a small, small world.” That’s what was spinning in my head as I left a Walmart in Largo, Florida last night, even if Dwight disagrees. Here’s why. I […]

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Best Book I Read in June

It was the title that first caught my attention while I was browsing the Moody Publishing booth at their Pastors Conference—“On Being a Pastor.” Then the name Begg. Alistair Begg. I thought to myself, Yes, that’d be quite interesting to see what he thinks about being a pastor. But I was wrong. This book by […]

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My 1 Main Way of Dealing with Discouragement

Let’s state the obvious: no one is without their times of discouragement. At some point, all of us face moments when we feel like things aren’t looking up and we wonder if all the effort is worth it. And it matters not if this discouragement stems from circumstances or relationships, the end result is the […]

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It’s STATurday: The Power of Small Groups

Each year I try to informally and spontaneously poll our weekend attenders in regards to two things: 1) their involvement in a small group, and 2) their commitment to serving on a ministry team on a regular basis. I never ask who is being polled (i.e., names are not required), nor do I ever announce […]

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What’s in Your Attic?

With my sister and her husband moving to Iowa (from TN) later this month, they both knew at least one thing had to be done before they left town: an attic clean-out. What made this task oddly attractive was that their house used to be my parents’ home; it was where she—and I and our […]

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Big Words, Small Summaries: Five End-Time Views

In my post from yesterday I revealed the informal results from a casual Sunday survey I conducted recently about end times. And I suspect those who whom I unintentionally frustrated with the survey may have been equally irritated with the post, mainly because I still didn’t provide a synopsis of the various views. Well, at […]

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Survey Says…

A little more than a week ago I conducted an informal survey during my message, “Paul on the Lord’s Return.” The goal? To find out how many people in the audience definitively knew what eschatological label they wore; in what end times “camp” they pitched their tent. I showed four main views on the screen […]

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To Most People, It’s Mess-chatology.

It’s officially called “Eschatology” — the study of last things. But to most people, it feels more like “Messchatology.” And no wonder. With color-coded flip charts and criss-crossed timelines, literal predictions and symbolic prophecies, Spielberg-like scenarios and Lucas-like creatures, too many preachers turn our primary attention towards debatable timing instead of doctrinal truth. This is […]

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A Deathly Implication

As I stated in my message on May 15, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 contains a rather important implication about death: it is a natural occurrence. Maybe not for all of us should the Lord return before we die. But barring that event, death will occur. As odd as it may sound, death is part of the process […]

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Tetelestai: A Short Story

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Backpedaling a Bit: A Shift on Sarcasm

Developing what you believe about a given issue or subject is sometimes a work in process. Such is the case with me and sarcasm. My readers know that recently I took the stance that sarcasm was wrong. Few debated that, because usually and generally, that’s true. But I maintained it was always wrong. Ah, that’s […]

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Sunday Rewind: What is “the right thing” in James 4:17?

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Is Sarcasm Always Wrong?

Sarcasm. It’s a cultural icon today. From Hollywood to Washington, on TV and radio, sarcasm seems to rule the day. Unfortunately, the church has followed suit. Instead of defending apologetically, explaining logically, reasoning morally, conversing factually, or supporting theologically, we too often resort to mocking sarcastically. And no issue or person is exempt. These days, […]

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The Next Book I’m Buying

Book reviews are rarely motivating, They’re usually just informative. Not that being informative is bad. Frankly, that’s probably what a book review should be. But Steve McAlpine’s review of Mark Sayers Disappearing Church: From Cultural Relevance to Gospel Resilience (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2016. 176 pp. $14.99) was more than a review aimed at informing. It was an […]

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Q Zone: The Line Between Loving God and Loving the World

In a recent message from James 4:1-6 on fighting the war within, specifically pride and worldliness, a listener asked, “Where do we draw the line between worldliness and godliness? For example, we need to work to provide for our families, but when does that become materialistic? In excess? Proud?” To help provide some insight, I’ve […]

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40 Days and 18 Ways

Tomorrow our church, First family Church, begins our 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting emphasis. I’m looking forward to seeing God work deeply within the lives of his flock here as every day we are all praying, and everyday at least one person is fasting. For those among my readership who are not within this […]

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Home Runs Start Launching Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the opening of the 2016 baseball season! And few things in baseball are as fun to watch as home run. In fact, if you’re any sort of baseball fan, this 54-second video will probably get your blood pumping for the first pitch: But regardless of which AL or NL team you cheer for, […]

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Sunday Rewind: Resurrection Reasonings

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Holy Week

Pics from Passion Week Places

Kids love pictures. It’s one of the first ways children learn. And since many parents are focusing their kids’ attention this week on the topics of Jesus’ last week, perhaps these pics will help bring even more visualization to what you teach concerning his final hours. NOTE: These pictures are from my trip to Israel […]

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Passion Week Thoughts: The Cross, the Tomb, and the Throne

There’s no doubt that the cross is the centerpiece of God’s glory. Because of the crucifixion, sin can’t condemn us! Romans 8:1 confirms that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 5:2 shouts, “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, […]

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Q Zone: What Would You Say…

We opened Holy Week this year with a look at the message of “first importance”–the gospel!–examining what Paul had to say about it in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. Without a doubt the Apostle testified to it’s veracity and vitality in what many consider to be the most succinct explanation of this ‘good news’ in the New […]

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A Good Deal on a Good Book for a Most Important Week

A couple of years back during Holy Week I read “The Final Days of Jesus” by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Justin Taylor. Together with the scriptural timeline I rehearsed and the gospel accounts I reviewed (which the book contains too), it made for a soul-stirring seven days. We are on the brink on Holy Week 2016—when we […]

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Remembering Pastor Chirwa

Yesterday morning I received word that a pastor friend of mine in Lusaka, Zambia passed away: Pastor Gerald Chirwa. While Gerald and I weren’t real close simply due to location issues, we did talk frequently over FB, and I had been to see him on a couple of occasions. Additionally, he has been a global […]

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Sunday Rewind: Words That Build Up Husbands

What are words a wife can use to build up her husband? In this 2 1/2 minute answer I offer four words that will go a long way in helping a wife do this, as well as explaining why. This “Sunday Rewind” is best understood when heard alongside the message I preached, “Paul on Words,” […]

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Q Zone: Is it Unwise to…??

What does a wise person look like? How would they act? What would they do? These were the core issues addressed by Pastor Travis last week when he spoke from James 3:13-17 on “What Wisdom Wears.” I especially appreciate his emphasis on generosity and the counter-intuitive nature of true, heavenly wisdom “from above.” In fact, […]

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Baptized Bodyguards and the Providence of God

We had climbed five flights of narrow stairs, some in the dark, before we ended up in a small room, perhaps 12 x 12, where gathered was about 20 believers. They were part of this house fellowship in south Asia—a church no less—and present were more than Asians and Americans. God was there. In us. […]

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Family Idolatry: A Q Zone EXTRA

One of the questions that came in during the 10:30 service delved into the matter of whether or not our children—or families for that matter—can become an idol. And if so, is there danger in that? Though I answered the first part of the question with a clear-cut ‘yes,’ I did not expound on the […]

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Live Interview Re: India and Nepal

Last Thursday I appeared on Mac’s World Live, a daily radio/web show on KTIA 99.3, concerning aspects of my trip to India and Nepal. Here’s a link to that interview. (You’ll want to start around the 15-minute mark as the first part is a rabbit trail about the iPhone. Go figure!)

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12 Words, 3 Phrases, 8 Days: Observations From South Asia

Cardboard houses all in a row. Yet in the middle of it a church was there, serving and preaching the beautifully good news of heaven in what seemed like a hellhole of human existence. God’s church, alive and well, had come to the slums. A small, cinderblock room tucked invisibly between two street shops. The […]

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Of All Nations

Just some pictures (and a few captions) of my current trip to south Asia. It’s experiences like this where Jesus’ last command—“make disciples of all nations”—comes into even greater focus for me as I see it played out person after person in all kinds of places. So thankful spiritual reproduction knows no distinction! The villages […]

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Sunday Rewind: Does Obedience Matter Corporately?

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Sunday Rewind: Why Obedience Matters Personally

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Q Zone: Super Bowl Edition on Good Receptions

Sunday we looked at what constitutes a “good catch” of God’s Word. In other words, how do you know if you’ve received the Word? As James so plainly states, it is both hearing and doing that constitute a true completion. Still, a few flags were thrown (i.e., questions). Here’s what some people were wondering as […]

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I Choose to Forgive

As 2014 closed and 2015 dawned, I asked myself: What one thing makes the largest difference in life and ministry? To me, one word sums it up: Forgiveness. Admittedly, this is my opinion. But this opinion of mine is flanked by two things that bring great weight to it—Scripture and experience. In fact, I’d be […]

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Moravian Momentum

Few people have taken the Great Commission as seriously as the Moravians. Not unlike the early church in Acts 8, they, too, were displaced due to persecution, and eventually settled on the estate of Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf in the German province of Saxony in the 1720’s.  In fact, Zinzendorf gave them land, and the […]

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