On Being an Inflatable Tank

It’s one of my favorite tales from a war that was packed full of stranger-than-fiction moments. During the Second World War, the Allied forces created a dummy army. Eager to deceive the Germans into thinking they were stronger than they actually were, the Allies hired a team of artists and designers to create a fake army—one that would look just real enough to deceive spies snooping around nearby or surveillance flights flying far overhead. So they built planes that were …

What Gave Him Such Confidence?

When we sin against other people, our natural response is to distance ourselves from them. The naughty child who has defied her parents will look at the mess she has made, then slink away to her room. The church member who has spread gossip about another person will keep his distance the next Sunday. In this way, we imitate our first parents when they committed their first sin. In their shame and uncertainty, they ran and hid in a vain …

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Always Count the Cost

Just a couple of blocks from my home is the concrete shell of an unfinished mosque. Several years ago they broke ground and quickly after poured the concrete for the foundation and the four great minarets. And then the project went dormant. For almost three years it has sat ugly and unfinished, a grey concrete husk on the edge of the city. A GoFundMe page shows they have completed phase one of the project, but have collected less than one …

If I’m Forgiven, Why Can’t I Keep Sinning?

I was recently privileged to speak at a conference in Quezon City, Philippines. The question and answer session yielded some interesting questions like this one: “If forgiveness is guaranteed and there is no longer any condemnation for me, why not sin?” This was my answer in the context of the sermon I had just preached. Transcript If forgiveness is guaranteed and there is no longer any condemnation for me, why not sin? I think Paul anticipated this in the book of …

Sin Is Immaturity

There is a lot bound up in every sin. Sin is missing the mark—an arrow that has veered so far to the left or the right that it has flown past the target. Sin is transgression, disobedience toward a known law or standard. Sin is iniquity, premeditated rebellion against God. And lately, especially as I’ve been examining my own life, I’ve also been seeing sin as immaturity. Sin is a failure to grow up. We expect that children will behave …

When God Removes the Asterisks

We like to whitewash our historical heroes. As we look to the great men and women of faith who lived and died before us, we face the temptation to rejoice in their strengths and to ignore their weaknesses. The same is true of our contemporary heroes. Though it is right and good to have human heroes, we soon learn they all have flaws. There is not one who has lived and died without sin. A thorough study of any person …

Have You Committed The Unpardonable Sin?

Have you ever wondered if you have committed that one unpardonable sin the Bible talks about? A lot of people spend a lot of time really concerned about this, so it may do them good to listen in as I talk about why I think it’s unlikely they have committed it. Transcript I think every pastor, probably every Christian, at one time or another, is asked about the unpardonable sin. We read in scripture about one sin that can not, …

For the Pastor Knee-Deep in Immorality

A couple of weeks ago we received the news that another—yet another—well-known and highly-admired pastor had been removed from ministry after his elders learned he was involved in an extra-marital affair. Such incidents are all too common, though I suspect the frequency is related as much to the shrinking of the world as any great explosion of immorality. The internet allows us to find affinity with a greater number of people and, in the same way, allows us knowledge of …

The Utter Horror of the Smallest Sins

You’ve probably heard it said that all sin is the same. There are some who argue that there is really no such thing as big sins or little sins, no distinction between acts of depravity and mere peccadillos. That charge is easily answered— the Bible often distinguishes between various gradations of sin, so that some are regarded as more serious than others. The Old Testament law, after all, laid out very different punishments for different sins. Later, Jesus distinguished between …

Bring Her Out and Let Her Be Burned

“Bring her out and let her be burned!” This dramatic pronouncement of judgment gets me every time I read it. And through long familiarity, it has become one of my favorite Bible passages. That’s weird, I know. Yet it’s not a favorite in the sense that I’d recommend it as a life verse or a tattoo or the inside of a greeting card. It’s a favorite in the sense that it speaks so truly about the state of humanity. And …