Thursday, December 29, 2011


     I have renewed my commitment to finding a quiet time during the day to sit and listen for God's voice. This morning I prayed, "Say anything you want."

     I sat in quiet and nothing came, so I opened my Bible to where I had left off reading. Matthew 6:34.
"Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." 

     I thought good luck with that. 

As with most of you, I do worry about tomorrow.
  • I have 9 children, 4 of whom are overseas doing mission work in dangerous places. Two of these have recently faced real danger. 
  • I worry about whether or not I have what it takes to do the work I think I have to do
  • and keep the promises I have made. 
  • And, of course, the perennial worry common to many, money. Will there be enough? Where will it come from? 
  • Etc.
     I worry.

Then it hits me. I just asked God to speak to me and then Jesus says, "don't worry." That means, any worry thoughts about tomorrow are not from him. So if I want to think his thoughts, which I do, they will never be worry thoughts.

     Fretting about tomorrow is reflexive and it seemed to me like a responsibility. But, if Jesus' words are anything to go on, worry thoughts are not his voice and I don't have to entertain them. Jesus says in effect, "You're fired from your responsibility to worry." 

     Planning is ok. Fretful planning isn't.

     In Matthew 14:13-21, Jesus and his disciples are confronted with five thousand hungry people needing to be fed. Jesus tells his boys to feed them. They worry, "We only have five loaves and two fishes. Jesus tells them to bring what they have to him and he makes that more than enough.

     I think I am called to do more than I have resources for. Jesus says, "Bring what you have to me. My leading is my feeding."

     Most of us spend way too much time regretting the past and fretting the future. Jesus says that none of those thoughts are from him, so stop it.

And the freedom just keeps coming!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Long Blog - Apologies

     Last time I asked you to reflect on Mark 11:24 in light of God's promises and our response. I recently committed myself to believe what Jesus said in that verse, and its parallels in Matthew and John, and my life has changed as a result.

     On November 16, 2011, a friend I hadn't seen in years phoned to ask if I would go to Haiti to teach and train Christan leaders. Because of Haiti's recent troubles he thought they would be more open to my emphasis on grace, healing, and non abusive styles of leadership. Normally I would have said yes, but because of deepening depression and fatigue over the past 10 years, I told him I was limiting travel to keeping only the promises I had already made.

     Then he told me his healing story. Earlier in his life he spent years suffering from severe intestinal problems. He was in constant pain, could only eat chicken and water and doctors offered no help. Not even a good diagnosis. In despair, he decided to take his life. While in the final stages of planning suicide, he read about a man who was healed from a terminal illness by believing Jesus' words in Mark 11:24. My friend said to himself, "If believing Jesus' words worked for this guy, maybe there is hope for me." After months of proclaiming Jesus' words in Mark 11:24 and believing as best he could, he was finally healed. He has been mostly symptom free ever since.
     I responded to my friend's testimony by saying, I'm happy for you and all, but it sounds like the name-it-and-claim-it prosperity foolishness that I have so roundly criticized over the years.

     He said, "That word-faith stuff is about manipulating God, this is different. Read it again."

     So we hung up and I opened my N.T. to Mk.11:24. Jesus says, 
"Ask for whatever you will and believe you already have it and it will be yours."

     Although I have preached through the N.T. countless times I never preached on this verse or its parallels in Matthew and John. I didn't because I wasn't sure what to make of them or, more likely, I simply didn't believe them. My next thought was where do I get off choosing from Jesus' words what to believe and not to believe?

     At this point, I said to myself, OK, I have to think this through. Is Jesus really telling us to play make believe or live in denial, pretending we have something we don't? Then I saw it. 

     Wait a minute....

     I already believe what this verse is really saying. I have been preaching and writing for decades that we received all we will ever need for our life in and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus 2000 years ago. Along with Peter, I have been saying that all we need is provided for us already because of our participation in Christ (II Peter 1:34). I had simply never connected the "everything we need" with my own need for healing. This is ironic and embarrassing since I wrote the best selling book on Christian healing 20 years ago. Over those 20 years, I have prayed for many thousands and seen hundreds healed, and sometimes dramatically so. But if they were not healed, I never told them to believe regardless. I said instead, let's pray some more.

     At any rate, on the evening of Nov. 16, 2011, I said to God, this is the last time I ask for my own healing. I am now going to believe I have it and say thank you. That ends my responsibility in the matter. The "and it will be yours" is your responsibility. I look forward to seeing what you do.

     I thought, as with my friend, it would take time for anything to happen and was prepared to take a stand regardless. But I awoke the next day - and it was as if someone switched on a light. Depression lifted and I had more energy. There have been ups and downs during the past 40 days, but the trend is decidedly up. I have not felt this well in 10 years.


     It seems too simple, too childlike. And of course, it is... 
"unless you change and become like little children..." Matthew 18:3.

     Oh, and I'm going to Haiti.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


     I often think of my life as a chess game played with the Holy Spirit. He makes the first move. Then he waits for me to move. Then he makes another move, and so on. When he moves a piece, I have to respond to that specific move. He is not playing against me, rather for me and with me, helping me win. I have learned that he usually doesn't move out of turn and he doesn't make my move for me as a rule.
     God makes promises to us. We read those in the Bible. Those are his moves. Our move is to respond in faith and act as if we believe. Then, in time, he moves.
     Thinking of our lives as a call and response to the lover of our souls makes sense of so many Bible stroies:
  •      He promised Abraham a son, making him the father of many. God's move. Then Abraham and Sarah, the old couple, had to couple. Their move. Then, Sarah, whose womb had long died, gave life. God's move.  
  •      God tells Israel that Jericho will be delivered into their hands. His move. They had to march around Jericho seven times. On the sixth trip around there there was no evidence that God's promise would be kept. One more time around. Their move. The walls came down. God's move.
  •      Jesus told the man with the withered hand to stretch it out. God's move. The man does as he was told. His move. Jesus healed his hand. God's move.
  •      To the man born blind, Jesus said, "Go wash in the pool of Siloam." Jesus' move. The man does it. His move. He receives his sight. God's move. 
  •      Etc. etc.
     You see what I mean.

     For whatever reason, God wants to partner with us in everything. His call is his promise. Our response is faith in a person we can trust. Then he moves again. And as I have learned, he usually doesn't move out of turn.

     Even though we only need faith the size of a mustard seed and we get to pray, "I believe, help my unbelief," we still need to believe and act as if we do.

     In light of that, what do you make of Mark 11:22, 24?

Jesus said to them, "Have faith in God..."
"For this reason I tell you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."

Thursday, November 17, 2011


When I say with Paul that "God chose us to be in Christ before the creation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4) and that conversion is working up to that fact, I am often asked where then does REPENTANCE fit in?

After all, if we were found in Christ before we were lost in Adam, does our REPENTANCE count for anything? Since the New Testament and Jesus especially, talk about REPENTANCE, I should have an answer.

Most evangelical Christians have heard that our REPENTANCE is something we must do as a step in connecting with God's salvation. When I ask people what they think REPENTANCE means, the conversation goes something like this:

PEOPLE: "REPENTANCE is realizing we have sinned, saying I'm sorry and asking for forgiveness."

ME: "When you say sorry, do you have to be sincere or just say the words?"

PEOPLE: "You have to be sincere."

ME: "How sincere do you have to be? I mean, when do you know for sure that you have been sincere enough?"

You can see where this logic leads. We can never be sorry enough, sincere enough or believing enough ... and we know it. 

If there is a single human performance link in the chain that unites to God - we are doomed.
Whatever needs to be done to unite us to God must be done by HIM.

So now we can talk about how Jesus sees REPENTANCE. His most extensive teaching on this subject is found in his parables of the lost sheep, the coin, and the son in Luke 15.

A shepherd finds a lost sheep who will die without rescue and Jesus says, "In the same way, I tell you there is rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who REPENTS..."

QUESTION: What was the lost sheep's REPENTANCE?

A coin gets lost and a woman searches high and low to find it. Jesus says, "In the same way I tell you, there is rejoicing in heaven in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who REPENTS."

QUESTION: What did the lost coin do that in any way resembles our popular view of REPENTANCE?

Jesus teaches that REPENTANCE is like being found by a good shepherd or a determined housekeeper when we are helpless to do or say anything. The sheep and coin did nothing and contributed nothing to being saved.  

REPENTANCE, according to Jesus, is letting ourselves be found. 

REPENTANCE is like being welcomed home, which brings us to the lost son. The prodigal comes home because he is hungry and looking for food. The Father goes out and saves him. The coin, the sheep, and the son do nothing like our common view of REPENTANCE.

REPENTANCE is waking up to the truth that we are already accepted and then accepting our acceptance. 

REPENTANCE is the experience of being found.

Admitting our sin and saying sorry to God is entirely appropriate, but this is not REPENTANCE and doesn't save us.
The Father of Jesus, who is also our Father, does it all.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


People often use this term to recount their conversion.
Receiving Christ or inviting him into our hearts, however, is not New Testament language and gives a distorted impression of what actually happens in so called conversion.

If Paul's view of reality is anything to go on, then Jesus, from eternity, has already included us in his life. 

Conversion to Christ is then us coming out of darkness and awaking to this truth.

Here is Paul:  
"Long before he laid down earth's foundations, God had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ." Ephesians 1:4-5
"God who saved us and called us, not according to our works, but according to his own purposes and grace, which was given to us in Jesus Christ before time began."

So, receiving Christ amounts to awaking to the truth that you are already home free. 

When Paul said, 
"It is for Freedom that Christ set us free"
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom
his words were based on this insight.

If we worry about our own performance regarding connecting with God, we are not free.
Bondage follows fretting over the quality of our repentance and the rightness of our believing.
We may feel closer to God when we are good and alienated when we are bad, but it's all illusion. 

The Father did not leave it to us whether or not he accepted us. 
His purposes are in no way dependent on our opinions or our decisions. 
We don't get a vote. 
"Long before God laid the earth's foundations, he decided to adopt us into his family."

In a real sense, coming alive to this truth is a kind of conversion. Everything changes. Realizing that we are included in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, that we are home free forever does or at least should transform us.

  • Our guilty conscience loses its grip on our imagination. 
  • Other people's opinions of us exercise less power. 
Seeing how well loved and eternally secure we are and always have been, enables us to take risks:
  1. love others, all others
  2. and freely forgive
  3. take risks
We begin to see the world as a safe place for us.

The greatest and most life changing benefit of all is what pops into our imaginations when we think of God. We now see him loving us with no shadow of turning. 

There was never a time, nor will there ever be a time when he looks upon us with anything other than loving acceptance. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Last week I performed the wedding of my third son.

It seemed appropriate to speak of Jesus' first miracle - turning water into wine in order to rescue a wedding ceremony after the wine had run out. This was a shame based culture and saving face was paramount. Therefore, failing to provide hospitality for guests equaled deep humiliation for the host families and the couple would have to begin their life together in shame.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, assumed leadership in this situation and determined to solve the problem. She asked Jesus to "do something."

At first he put her off by saying, "It is not yet my time."

But she refused to take no for an answer and told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to.


                Got a problem?

Call Jesus and don't take no for an answer. If he communicates to you in some way, in Scripture or more directly, do whatever he tells you to do.

This is what the servants did. After they filled six water jars with water, Jesus turned that water into wine.

Problem solved.

This often happens when Jesus gets involved and gains our cooperation. Not only is a problem solved, in this case, a humiliating deficit is turned into a joyful abundance. This happy ending would never have happened if, when the wine ran out, everyone had focused on who was to blame. After all, it was someone's fault that there wasn't enough wine. 

Faultfinding and blame shifting not only kills problem solving, it's something Jesus repeatedly refused to get involved in. So Mary didn't go there. She focused on the need for more and Jesus as provider.

Another thought....

Running out of celebration wine is a significant social embarrassment, but not a life and death issue. 

Why would Jesus perform his first miracle simply to prolong a party and protect people from shame? 
We might ask such a question if we see Jesus as primarily concerned with the big spiritual issues of life... 
the last judgment

But this story shows that Jesus cares about what we care about. 
He is in every corner of our lives, seeking to repair and add value to all of it. 
He is within our love of babies, baseball, barbeque, and all the rest.

This story tells us we can look for Jesus everywhere and call on him for any need and share with him every joy.  

Friday, October 14, 2011


Religion, including what often passes for Christianity, is all about how we reach UP to GOD
Religion is predicated on the false notion that there is a GAP between us and GOD.

us                      GOD

And that doing religion right is how we bridge that GAP.

us ------------> GOD

The Gospel, by contrast, is radical, different, unique, one-of-a-kind. Only the Gospel tells of the GOD Who Stoops to unite with us - not where we ought to be, but where we are.

us <------------ GOD


Both the Old and New Testaments show GOD as being keen to reverse the positions of those who are above with those who are below. Old Testament prophets often proclaimed that their GOD brings down the ruling powerful from their thrones, to lift up the poor and vulnerable. He did just this in the Exodus and numerous other places. In the New Testament, Jesus spoke of the prideful being cast down and the humble being raised up in echo of what his Father is like.

No one could have guessed or would have ever imagined how far GOD would go in his greatest reversal. Two thousand years ago, the GOD of all power stepped down from his cosmic throne. In Jesus, he humbled himself, became one of us, united himself to us in our poverty and vulnerability, in order to lift us UP.

Religion says we are to lift ourselves UP by doing more and trying harder. 
  • If you are a Buddhist, you must be nice and successfully complete the Eight-Fold Path of Enlightenment. 
  • If you are a Muslim, you have to pray five times a day, pilgrimage to Mecca, etc. etc.
  • If you are a Jew, you must keep over 600 laws. Good luck with that. 
  • If you are New Age, you have to save the whales and go green. 
  • If you are a Christian, some churches say your doing more and trying harder comes in the form of giving time, energy, money, and not embarrassing the church leadership with bad behavior.
In other words, religion sees a GAP between us and the Divine and knows nothing of the GOD Who Stoops to lift us UP to where he is, free of charge or effort.

The next time you hear someone wonder if all religions are the same, say YES.

Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of GOD, Son of Man, is different.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Love keeps no record of wrong. That's what it says in I Corinthians 13:5.
On the day Jesus died, God fired all the bookkeepers in heaven and assigned them happier jobs. 

John says in I John 2:2, that Jesus died for our sins and the sins of the whole world.
And Paul says, "God made you alive with Christ. He FORGAVE ALL our sins, having canceled the written code...He took it away, nailing it to the cross." Colossians 2:13-14 

This means there is now  -
 Eternally FORGIVEN

If there be any doubt about this, Jesus himself said, "Father FORGIVE them," as he died.
Now when we think about the judgment of God at the end of the age,
                                                      when God destroys all sin and evil,
                                                     He can do so without destroying us.

Should we choose to believe this Good News, we can walk through life free of guilt and shame.

And because we are fully and eternally FORGIVEN, we can now FORGIVE others.

This is also Good News.

We have all been hurt by others - sometimes grievously.

I know from personal experience that FORGIVING our enemy, especially a beloved enemy is not easily done.

To FORGIVE something serious is to experience a kind of death.

God bore in His flesh the pain and death of FORGIVING a world.

We experience our own little deaths by following him in this work.

And it is work - and may take time.

But it is work that has to be done and is well worth the doing.

If my wife and I didn't regularly FORGIVE each other, our marriage would be unbearable.

If I don't FORGIVE others, my life becomes unbearable.

When we are able to FORGIVE, we set others free and find that we too, are set free.

After all, withholding FORGIVENESS is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.

When God, in Christ, FORGAVE the world, He did it not only for us, but also for Himself.

He lives with a free and generous Spirit toward us.

Following Him empowers us to live with a free and generous spirit toward others too.

Jesus tells us to FORGIVE as we have been FORGIVEN.
Again, he's looking out for us.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


In Matthew 13, Jesus tells this story...

"The kingdom of heaven is like a man who found a TREASURE in a field and with joy, sold all he owned to buy that field."

Imagine walking into a field and finding something so beautiful, so valuable ...
that all you possess or could ever gain in this life pales in comparison.
So you make a sign... EVERYTHING MUST GO!!!!! ...and have a garage sale.
Everyone thinks you've lost your mind.
             "Why are you doing this?" they demand.
You point to the field and smile. 
"I'm buying that!"
"You're crazy," they protest. 
"Don't you see? You're losing everything." 
But you just keep smiling because you know that with the field comes the TREASURE. You are gaining - not losing. With joy you sell ALL, because you've seen a beauty worth losing EVERYTHING for.

I like this story. I've preached it many times as though we were the ones who find the great TREASURE - the kingdom of God - worth losing everything for.
But recently, my son, Aaron, wondered, "What if GOD is the man who sold everything and WE are the TREASURE?"

Even better.
It is a little story that points to the big story.

We are the TREASURE God emptied himself to buy. 
When Jesus came from heaven to find us, he found his TREASURE.
Heaven was bankrupt as Jesus gave ALL and died for us.
"But for the JOY set before him he endured the cross..."
the pain and the loss...
Hebrews 12:2
Yes. The JOY of finding and gaining the TREASURE.
Think what it cost God to own you and now what JOY He has in having you.

You are the TREASURE!

Friday, September 23, 2011


Being GRATEFUL is a fear buster. I can't be GRATEFUL and fearful at the same time. 

Try it.

So, while we are commanded over 200 times NOT to fear, we are also commanded hundreds of times to be GRATEFUL and give thanks.

  • God is looking out for us. 
  • He wants us to be happy. 
  • He designed us to thrive.

Those who know me know that my conversation and prayers are filled with GRATITUDE. Being GRATEFUL, however, does not come naturally. I come from a long line of self-pitying, critical complainers. Ingratitude is my first nature.

For forty years, I have worked diligently to cultivate an attitude of GRATITUDE. Now it is habitual. My second nature. I have practiced gratitude, not because God commands me to, but rather, as a defense against bi-polar brain problems.

For much of my adult life, I have suffered from major clinical depression. Among all the other bad things related to serious depression, is the way it so thoroughly undermines an attitude of GRATITUDE.

I have an additional problem. I wrote the best selling Christian book on healing. I have prayed for thousands of people over the past 30 years, and many were healed. My first nature wants to rhuminate on that disconnect. 
  • I know God heals. 
  • I've seen it. 
  • Why then, are prayers for healing ineffective for me?
No one knows.

Since prayer doesn't work and doctors haven't helped, I focus like a laser on all the good in my life: 
a good marriage, nine powerful, interesting, loving children, work I love, friends to support me, even a friend who fixes my cars. I'm on airplanes a lot and not one of them has crashed. 
I live in San Diego...

When I look closely, there is so much to be GRATEFUL for.

I'm even GRATEFUL to pay bills. When I do it, S.D. Gas and Electric bring electricity to our house and trash collectors get rid of our trash.

I'm GRATEFUL for the farmers, harvesters, and truckers who get our food to us and I thank God for the money to buy it. Because I've spent so much time in the underdeveloped world, I'm GRATEFUL we have food at all.

And how about limitless, clean, running water? 

Practicing GRATITUDE in a thoughtful way makes being mad at God for what He hasn't done more difficult. It also undermines the fear and sadness agenda.

No one's life is what it should be. We all have pain to live through.

Therefore, "Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving."
Psalm 50:14

He's looking out for us.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I sometimes ask this question during motivational talks. 
And then I get emails and calls from people who act on it. They do something big and it changes their lives.

Great stories are lived by those who act BRAVELY

The enemy of BRAVERY is, of course, FEAR.

FEAR wisely listened to sometimes keeps us safe and saves us from humiliation. 

  • When I was 16, I drove my motorcycle 90 miles an hour on the wrong side of the freeway. I should have listened to my FEAR, rather than hope for the approval of friends.
  • In high school, I should have listened to my FEAR of asking the hottest girl in school to go to a dance. Sure, I was relieved and happy when she said yes, but humiliated when she danced with every guy but me.
But more often than not, FEAR intimidates us into playing it too safe. 

God tells us NOT TO FEAR over 200 times in the Bible.

Jesus says,
"Don't fear anything. Risk all. Sell all and follow me."

Knowing Jesus as I do, I know he is simply looking out for us. He is not trying to make life difficult for us if we do radically follow him. Nor does he want us feeling guilty if we don't. He just doesn't want us to live BORING lives.

Before asking  
                              WHAT WOULD I DO IF I WERE BRAVE?

you need to ask two other questions: 
If the answer to both of these questions is yes 
you can be BRAVE

The big FEAR is death. 
If Paul is right, that to die is gain, then all the lesser FEARS add up to chump change. 

Being BRAVE may be no more complicated than thinking things through.
  • I was afraid to work as a missionary in Communist East Europe, but I wanted the adventure. I feared prison and got it, but it was a transformational experience and looks good on my resume. ALL GAIN
  • I was afraid to get married because I thought I would lose my freedom. I lost it, but gained so much more. ALL GAIN.
  • I was afraid to have children because I would be responsible to keep them from dying. We had 8 and they are nearly all adults, so, so far, so good. ALL GAIN.
I've planted several churches from scratch and started two mission organizations. 
All big risks. 
All big payoffs. 
All gain.

I know for certain that on my deathbed, I'm not going to say I wish I had taken fewer risks.

When God says DON'T BE AFRAID over 200 times, it is because he doesn't want us to miss the great, BRAVE adventure our lives can be.

Great stories are lived by those who act BRAVELY.

                     So ...


Friday, September 9, 2011


God enters his creation inside every child ever conceived. 
He knows, afresh, the world through the experience of that child.  


Really. That's what the New Testament says. Repeatedly.

"Jesus created all things and is connected to all things."
John 1:3-4 

 "Jesus created everything and he holds everything together."
Colossians 1:15-17

"Jesus created all and now sustains all."
Hebrews 1:3 

  • Jesus is there at your conception 
  • Sustains you throughout your life 
  • And into the next

We speak about inviting Jesus into our life at conversion and inviting him into particular situations. The truth is, HE has already included you inside HIS own life - inside his friendship with his Father and the Spirit.

Theologians sometimes depict God in heaven as looking 
The truth is, 
                    HE is inside us experiencing our lives with us: 
                                                                                               feeling our joy
                                                                                               feeling our pain
                                                                 working through it all to perfect us                                                                                                                                                                         
Paul says our life is hidden in God with Christ.

Jesus says,
 "I am in my Father, you are in me and I am in you."
John 14:20  

What he means is: what happens to us, happens to him. 

More importantly, because we are ONE with Christ: what happens to him, happens to us. 
  • His life is in us
  • His death to sin and judgment is in us 
  • His resurrection is in us
All of this will be realized and experienced by us in due time. 


Monday, September 5, 2011


You were found in Christ - from eternity - before you were ever lost in Adam. He loved and chose you before you were born. As Paul puts it:

"God chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will."
Ephesians 1:4-7
Your repentance didn't save you.
Your faith didn't save you.

God the Father, by the Spirit, through Jesus saved and adopted you 2,000 years ago.
We repent and believe the good news in order to say yes to his eternal YES.

Your decision to follow Jesus is your accepting God's previous acceptance of you. It's you saying yes to his eternal YES

When the prodigal returned home, he sought to work for his acceptance. He said,

"Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me one of your hired men."
Luke 15:18-19

The prodigal thought he had succeeded in un-son-ing himself and had to work for some  lesser level of acceptance. What he discovered is that he didn't have the ability to un-son himself. The father dismissed his so called repentance and threw a party in honor of the true son that he was, with all the honor & privileges of a beloved child.

The Father alone decides who are his sons and daughters and to our relief, he decided to adopt you through Christ before he even created the physical universe.

You can foolishly resist his acceptance and YES, for a time. But when you truly hear how good the good news is, how can you say no? The life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus announces to you and every person in the world,

 "It's safe to come home."

Monday, August 29, 2011


"GRACE and PEACE to you from God Our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ who gave himself for our sins to RESCUE us from this present evil age."
Galatians 1:3-5

If you wish to be clear about the Gospel of Grace, you must understand that, in Jesus, 2,000 years ago you were RESCUED!
Mining 4 Men

The most dramatic and theologically precise illustration of this rescue was provided to us some months ago in the rescue of 39 Chilean miners. As you remember, the mine shaft they were working exploded and they were trapped beneath a half mile of solid granite.

Everyone assumed they were dead. If they were not killed outright by the explosion, they had no chance of surviving because they couldn't be reached. The thought that drilling a half mile through granite and drilling in exactly the right place was obviously - not possible. They were dead or, in time, would be.

But then, an American mining group came up with a plan and procedure that worked! Long story short: they drilled a hole into where the miners were and then lowered a rescue capsule. One by one, the miners climbed into the capsule and were raised to the surface. In the course of minutes, they were transported from a grave to freedom, love, and the fresh air of life above.

This is, in essence, the basic Gospel. Jesus was lowered into our "present evil age" and made himself available to rescue us. When we believe into him, we are rescued. We are, in Paul's words, then rescued from this present evil age.

This is NOT religion. Religion says to those trapped underground, "you must do more, try harder. You can make it to the surface and God's favor if you just ____________(fill in the blank).

Religion and what passes for much of Christianity doesn't take the extent of our lostness seriously enough. We simply can't help ourselves. We can only accept the rescue capsule that's provided. When Jesus died on the cross, he said, "It is finished." He didn't say it is 50% finished, now you do the rest. He said, "it is finished" 100%.

If the drillers had gone a quarter of a mile down and told the miners to meet them halfway - they were dead. That's religion.

Jesus, the Last Adam, became one of us. He gathered us up into him and raised us up (Ephesians 1:3-10).

True, we can by faith get into the rescue capsule or not, but can you imagine any of the Chilean miners saying, "No thanks. I'll stay down here. Just give me some beer and cable."

All the work has been done for us.
Give thanks.
Be at peace.
Follow Jesus.
He has adventures for you on the surface.
Ephesians 2:8-10