Good, Good Father, 21 June 2020

Good, Good Father
Series—What in the World is Going On?

Big Idea: In the midst of our chaotic world, our Father is good, loving, and trustworthy.

What in the world is going on? If you’re like me, you’ve asked that question a lot lately.

The deadly coronavirus is one thing. The lockdowns and ensuring chaos have been—at least for many—even worse.

The senseless killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are one thing. The ensuring protests and violence are—at least for many—even worse.

What in the world is going on?

Our world is a mess. But this is actually not a new thing. Read the Bible! Ever since Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the Garden, we’ve all been involved in the deadliest force in the universe…sin.

Sin is ugly and evil in all of its forms—blatant and subtle—and the antidote is love…and a great Dad!

Happy Father’s Day!

Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day can be bittersweet. Perhaps like me, your father is deceased and you’re left with memories, perhaps good, possible not-so-good. Maybe you never knew your dad…or he was abusive. Some of you are dads, and your heart breaks for your wayward, prodigal child.

Today I want to talk about a good Father. A good, good Father. Actually, He’s great, He’s awesome, He’s positively perfect! Yes, I’m talking about our heavenly Dad.
If the word “father” carries baggage, I encourage you to imagine the best dad you know…or maybe even the best parent you know. It might be a friend’s dad or even one from a movie or television show. No matter how ideal that dad is, our heavenly Dad is so much greater.

I have one simple prayer for today: that you would begin to understand how much your heavenly Dad really loves you. I know what you’re thinking: I know God loves me. But you can’t imagine how loved you really are. I can’t imagine. Why? Because none of us have experienced such extravagant love from a human. It is transformational. It is unconditional. It is life-giving. It is grace-filled.

Grace. Unmerited favor.

Nothing you can do can make God love you more than He does right now.
Nothing you can do can make God love you less than He does right now.

I want to be a dad like that. I want my kids—and grandkids—to be secure in my unconditional love for them. I love them. Period.

I don’t love them more if they get straight As.
I don’t love them more if they are the starting quarterback.
I don’t love them more if they become a CEO, launch a non-profit, or become a billionaire.

I don’t love them less if they flunk calculus.
I don’t love them less if they get cut from the basketball team.
I don’t love them less if they get addicted to opioids or end up in prison or get divorced.

Now imagine how much greater God’s love is for them…for me…for you!

God doesn’t love you more if you read the Bible every single day for the rest of your life.
God doesn’t love you more if you “go to church” every Sunday.
God doesn’t love you more if you go on a missions trip, live off 10% of your income, or lead a thousand people to follow Jesus.

God doesn’t love you less if you struggle with porn or alcohol.
God doesn’t love you less if you get arrested for speeding on I-75.
God doesn’t love you less if you get an abortion, are attracted to someone of the same sex, or commit adultery.

“But pastor, that’s not how a good Christian is supposed to behave!”

True, but have you ever met a truly good Christian? We all sin. We all miss the mark. We all fall short. We can compare ourselves to others, but the reality is we’re all sinners. We don’t want what we deserve from God…trust me! How many times did God threaten to wipe us all out? He did once—with Noah! Even then, God’s love won the day. There’s nothing like a good Father’s love.

For quite some time, churches have promoted the notion of sin management. We need to try harder to be a good person and stop doing bad things so God will like us.

In their book True Faced, Thrall, McNicol, and Lynch ask a rather provocative question:

Is it more important to please God or trust God?

The authors state quite properly, in my humble opinion,

Motives —> Values —> Actions

Pleasing God

God’s done so much for us. The least we can do is please Him, right? We need to work on our sin, engage in spiritual disciplines, and try not to mess up. We need to strive to be better, try harder, and certainly look good in front of others. It’s important to manage our sin, celebrate our progress, and make sure nobody knows the struggle, the secrets, the guilt and shame.

Pleasing God: the least we can do is please Him after all He’s done for us; good intentions (impressive, passionate people…wearing masks), working on their sin and disciplines; God loves you always, but He likes you a lot less when you mess up; God’s glad you’re doing your to-do list, but He’s not happy about your thoughts; nobody knows what’s behind the mask; you don’t believe you can really please God for a minute; you’re exhausted from faking;

Many Christians are motivated to please God. I’m not suggesting we should try to displease God, but if our primary motive is to please God, we will value perfection, realize our imperfection, and inevitably fake it. We join others with masks, believing God loves us, but He likes us a lot less when we mess up. He likes it when we read the Bible and pray, but He’s not happy about our thoughts. If we just try harder, if we just strive, if we do more…

More right behavior + less wrong behavior = Godliness


Motives —> Values —> Actions

If your motivation is to please God, you’ll value perfection and pursue it at all costs, even if it means pretending.

Trusting God

But there’s another option. It’s to trust God. It’s not as impressive, but it is infinitely more inviting. There’s not much to do. There are no masks to put on or people to please. It’s messy but honest and real. It’s about grace. The message on this road is God is delighted with you, wild about you regardless of how you behave. God loves you and likes you all the time, even when you mess up. God is here in the midst of your mess, enjoying you. He’s big enough to handle your stuff, and He’s never surprised when you fall. He says, “I am crazy in love with you…on your very worst day. I just want you to trust Me with who I say you are.” Embracing such love and acceptance is transformational…and contagious.

Jesus gave us a mission in Matthew 28:18-20 to go and make disciples, students, followers of Jesus. Discipleship is about being more than doing. It’s about becoming like Jesus, not impressing others. The true test of discipleship is how well you love…God and others. That doesn’t come from a seminar or sermon. It comes from being…with Jesus and with others who love Jesus.

Some of you are still stuck on pleasing God versus trusting God. Aren’t we supposed to please God? Yes! It is written,

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

Trusting God pleases God!

We are to trust and obey, not obey and trust.

Some of you think faith is simply believing Jesus died 2000 years ago for your sins. That’s part of it, but it’s so much more. It’s trusting God…with everything! It’s jumping out of the airplane believing when you pull the parachute string, He’ll be there. It’s taking a risk and loving someone who intimidates you. It’s being wildly generous and believing you can’t outgive God. It’s letting go of your bitterness and forgiving that evil person who tried to destroy you years ago. It’s refusing to believe the lies that you’re worthless, shameful, unlovable, or simply a loser.

I’m NOT saying we should take sin lightly. It always leads to death. Every time we sin, relationships are broken. God doesn’t want that for us any more than a parent would want to visit their child in jail.

But motives matter. They determine our values which lead to our actions, our behavior. We can’t begin with behavior because we will always fail and fake. We need to trust God and what He says about us, living out of our true identity as sons and daughters of the Most High God, our good, good Father.

The authors of TrueFaced note, “Scientifically, according to every test, including DNA, (a caterpillar) is fully and completely a butterfly.”

I know, you don’t look like a butterfly today. Neither do I! We have warts and wrinkles, literally and figuratively! Inside, we’re full of pride, selfish ambition, and evil thoughts. The enemy loves to remind us of our failures and flood us with accusations and shame. We look at those around us with their beautiful masks and think we’ll never measure up, unaware that they are just as insecure and impure as we are, they’ve just become better at hiding.

Family, our heavenly Dad loves you. Period. We don’t need to please God to earn His love, His favor. He’s already nuts about us! How else could you explain sending Jesus? He didn’t even do it because we were good. He knows we’re not!

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

If our motive is pleasing God, we will strive to earn His approval.

If our motive is trusting God, we will live out of who God says we are.

This is the difference between religion and a vibrant relationship with God.

It’s the difference between works and grace.

It’s the difference between doing and being.

Should we sin? No! Never! It’s deadly!

But the goal isn’t to sin less. It’s to know Jesus more. It’s to follow him. It’s to do life with him. John 15 talks about abiding, being rooted in him, experiencing the joy of fellowship, relationship, freedom, and peace.

I could talk about the Father’s love all day, but I want to take five minutes and let Him tell you!

The Father’s Love Letter


I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Paul wanted the church in Ephesus to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is God’s love. It’s nearly unbelievable!

Good dads love their kids. One of the things they do is give good gifts. As a dad, I love giving gifts to my kids and grandkid. It might be a hug, a word of wisdom, encouragement, or yes, even something from Amazon! Love gives. Jesus said,

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)

Dr. Luke recorded something similar from Jesus:

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)

God doesn’t just say, “I love you.” He proves it!

Psalm 103 says,

8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:8-14)

That’s great news, family! He’s a good, good Father!

In the middle of our crazy world, despite our sins and failures, we can trust God. We can run to our good, good Father whose arms are wide open. He was there after David committed murder and adultery. He was there when the prodigal son destroyed his life and returned home. He was there after Peter denied Jesus three times. He was there after Saul was involved in martyring Christians.

He’s here for you, too. Run into his arms! Trust and obey. Your Daddy loves you…forever!!!

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

Gift of Adoption, 17 December 2017

The Gift of Adoption
Series—The Gifts of Christmas
Ephesians 1:1-6

Big Idea: God sets a beautiful example of love and grace by adopting us as His children.

Skit Guys Video


Adoption is a very important and often emotional topic. I remember hearing a wonderful story of a boy being teased for being adopted. He turned to his peers and said confidently, “Your parents had to take you. My parents chose me!” While his attitude may have been a bit over the top, one thing’s for sure: adoption changes lives.

In the video, the mother utters three powerful words as she’s about to pick up her baby. She says, “We decided that’s the way it was going to be” and then says with a smile, “But it wasn’t.”

Our world is full of brokenness and pain. Bad news assaults us every day, prompting fear, worry, and anxiety. It’s so easy to give up, embrace the discouragement, settle for the status quo, and say, “That’s the way it’s going to be.” And then God whispers, “But it’s not.” During this Advent season of arrival, of waiting, we have looked at the gifts of expectancy, grace, and reconciliation. Today we turn to one of the most remarkable gifts of all…adoption. It changes lives. Has it changed yours?

In eight days we will celebrate the birth of Jesus, His entrance into our world…and into the family of Joseph and Mary. There are few things in this world more exciting than the birth of a baby. I’ve often said the only part of hospitals I like is the maternity ward. Families can grow two ways: through birth and adoption.

The Bible is filled with metaphors describing spiritual truths with physical realities. Words like family, born again, and new birth appear numerous times. One of my favorite verses—which we examined recently—was written by Jesus’ close friend John to some of the first Christians, followers of Jesus. He writes…

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)

I love this verse—pun intended. It’s not just love, but great love. It’s not just a stranger, but the Creator of the universe. It’s not just that He gives love, but He lavishes it. It’s not just anybody, it’s us! It’s not just servants or acquaintances or even friends, it’s children. And that is what we are…children of God…if we follow Jesus. If we embrace the “reason for the season.” If we surrender our will to God’s, believing that Daddy knows best.

I know many of you struggle at this word “Father” because your earthly dad was…less than stellar. Maybe you never knew him. Perhaps he abused you. That’s not our heavenly Father, though. He loves His kids. He loves you!

Our text for today was written by Paul, a remarkably passionate man who once persecuted Christians before encountering Jesus and becoming one of His followers. He writes,

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, 

To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:1-2)

This is a letter to the church in the city of Ephesus in modern day Turkey. His introduction is similar to his other writings. Then he begins to talk about their identity—who they are. I think we can safely say although this was not written to us, it was written for us and applies to all followers of Jesus.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

Paul offers praise to God. We praise God as we sing and pray, adoring Him for His greatness, power, majesty, faithfulness, and most of all love. It also says we’ve been blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. I’m not even sure I understand what every spiritual blessing means exactly, but I know it’s all good! In Christ—that’s the key phrase—we have access to God, to blessings, to faith, hope, and love. We are entitled to the benefits of being children of the King, the LORD of the universe. What’s more, followers of Jesus are “in Christ,” God the Father sees in us the things He sees in Jesus.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. (Ephesians 1:4-6)

The Greek word for “adoption” is huiothesia. When Paul uses the word it serves to distinguish the believer’s relationship as a daughter or son of God from that of Jesus.

Look at the New Living Translation of this Greek text:

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. (Ephesians 1:4-6, NLT)

That’s incredible!

God loved us.
God chose us to be holy.
God chose to adopt us into his own family.
And that was all before he made the world!

There’s more: it says he wanted to adopt us…and it gave him great pleasure. So what’s our response? We praise God. We praise the Father for sending the Son, Jesus, whose birthday we celebrate in eight days.

Have you heard this before? If so, share it. Listen as if you have to share this with a friend tomorrow…and then do it! This is a great time of year to ask, “What does Christmas mean to you?” Then listen. Maybe they’ll return the favor and you can say, “It means Jesus came as the greatest gift in human history, living a perfect life, dying for us, rising from the dead, and now he’s preparing a place for us. Do you know Him? He loves you.”

Love. There’s that word again. Everything in the video points to love. Everything about this season points to love. Baking cookies, buying or making gifts, hosting meals, sending cards, giving to charity, even singing songs of praise are all expressions of love.

But what is love? Contemporary philosopher-theologian Tom Oord says, “To love is to act intentionally, in sympathetic response to others (including God), to promise overall well-being.” I think that works. Theologian H. Richard Niebuhr said, “By love we mean at least these attitudes and actions: rejoicing in the presence of the beloved, gratitude, reverence and loyalty toward him [or her].”

Last week we read God is love. My professor, Scot McKnight, sees four elements in divine love:

God’s love is a rugged covenant commitment.

Beginning with Abraham, God relates to humans through covenant, a deep commitment, greater than a contract. Often people will say they fell in or out of love, but that’s just emotion. A commitment is a decision, a choice, a promise. God’s love is permanent. It is rugged and is able to withstand anything we may do or fail to do.

God’s commitment is to be present, or to be “with.”

I love this idea of presence. Jesus came as Emmanuel which means “God with us.” He doesn’t love us from afar, but enters our world, our pain, our suffering, our hopes. In the absence of Jesus—who left our planet but promised to return soon—He sent the Holy Spirit to live and dwell within each of His followers. God is committed to be with us, and He lives inside many of us through the Spirit. Someday He will dwell with His people in the new heavens and the new earth.

God’s commitment is to be an advocate, or to be “for.”

Have you ever had a friend that believed in you? Hopefully all of our friends like us, but I mean a special friend who supported you. About a decade ago my friend Ramsey came up to me and said, “I’ve got your back.” I’ve never forgotten those simple words. He was for me. Again, we see love expressed through a commitment. Throughout the Old Testament, God says to the Israelites, “I will be your God and you will be my people.”

God’s commitment has direction: God’s love is “unto” kingdom realities.

God loves the whole world. Every human was created in the image of God with dignity, value, and worth. If only we would always see others that way! Jesus is King and kings have kingdoms and kingdoms have rules. God’s kingdom mission establishes churches, communities marked by righteousness, the cross, and love.

The Family

Which brings us to right here and right now. We are a family, a faith family. In God’s family, we are all adopted…into grace…into love.

When Paul wrote to the church in Rome, he said…

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:14-15)

The word “abba” is Aramaic, a word used by children for their father, not unlike “daddy” or “papa.” It implies both intimacy and respect. What a joy to call the Almighty “Abba, Father.” When I talk with Him, I always want to maintain a reverence, but not a distance. Some are too formal with God…others too casual. Suffice it to say, it’s a huge honor and privilege to be able to talk with God at all, much less address Him as one of His children.

Heather and I watched the first episode of “The Crown” this past week. I’m not necessarily recommending it as we’ve just begun, but it’s the story of Queen Elizabeth. She is introduced in the television program shortly before she is married, and soon thereafter they fast-forward several years until she has two small children, Charles and Anne. These kids are shown riding their bikes and interacting with their parents, seemingly unaware that they are in the presence of royalty…that
they are royalty.

It’s easy for me to take my relationship with Abba Father for granted. I’m used to Him being my Dad, especially after the death of my earthly dad. I don’t deserve to be adopted as His son any more than Charles deserves to be Prince or Little Orphan Annie deserved to be adopted by Daddy Warbucks. What a privilege!

Paul continues…

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:16-17)

If you think Prince Charles is heir to a lot, think about what God’s children receive! We are co-heirs with Christ. But we are not yet able to enjoy all of the inheritance now. For many followers of Jesus throughout the centuries there has been suffering, persecution, and even martyrdom. Jesus was killed for speaking the truth, what makes us think following Him will lead to a safe, comfortable life? We’ve been blessed in this country with great freedoms, but as long as we live in a sinful, broken world there will be opposition from the author of hate and death, satan.

If you recall in the video, the mother reads the verse in the Advent calendar which says, “God has chosen me…” God has chosen us to be His children, to join His family, to participate in His mission to seek and save the lost, to serve the poor, widow, stranger and orphan, to make disciples of all nations who will follow Jesus, to love God and others. Family brings both privileges and responsibility. We have been given salvation, hope, peace, love, joy, and the Holy Spirit to love and serve our world.

Our Heavenly Father is greater than any earthly parent. He invites all humans to become His children, yet He gives us the choice of joining His family or rejecting Him. If you have not experienced a great human family, meditate on this simple verse:

Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me. (Psalms 27:10)

That’s adoption language. That’s love. He will never turn us away.

So What?

Maybe this is the Christmas when you say yes to God’s invitation to be adopted into His family. It simply involves surrendering control of your life, believing Daddy knows best. It means saying, “God, I want You to lead my life, be my LORD. Thank You for sending Jesus to die for my sins and offer me forgiveness and life. I want to join Your team, Your mission, Your family.”

Maybe this is the Christmas when you follow God’s example and adopt someone into your family. Heather and I completed foster care classes last year and continue to seek God regarding possibly fostering or adopting in the future. Some of you have experienced the tremendous joy of adoption. Even if you’re not ready to foster or adopt, you can help someone who is by praying for them, babysitting, or any number of things. The need in Lucas County for foster homes right now is staggering, especially with the opioid epidemic. There are brochures at the information center kiosk if you’re interested.

Maybe this is the Christmas when you simply adopt a person or family to join you at the Christmas table, buy them a gift, send them a hand-written note of encouragement, or simply say, “I love and appreciate you.”

How will you celebrate the Gift of Adoption this year? May Abba Father lead and guide you and your loved ones today, during these next eight days, and for years to come.

Credits: title, drama, and some ideas from The Skit Guys.

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • My Two Dads, 19 June 2016

    My Two Dads
    Father’s Day 2016
    1 John 3:1-3; Hebrews 12:7-11

    Big Idea:
    God is the greatest Dad!

    Happy Father’s Day! I realize like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day can be emotional…….

    This morning I’d like to read two letters. I’ve written one to my biological dad and the other to my heavenly Dad. I wish I could introduce you to my earthly dad, though hopefully you’ll get a glimpse of him through my letter. If you don’t know my heavenly Father, I can and will introduce you to Him!

    Dear Dad,

    It has been so long since I’ve spoken with you. I can’t remember the last time I heard you say my name. I miss you SO much.

    It was horrible watching you fade away over the past decade or so, your mind ravaged by Alzheimer’s. I’m grateful you never got angry and loud but instead remained so calm. You seemed to be comfortable, even during your final days two years ago. I’m so glad I was with you on May 5, 2014 to watch you take your last breath, surrounded by mom, Heather, and other family members.

    Thank you.
    Thank you for loving me, for loving my sister, and for loving mom. Everyone who knew you knew you were a man of love. Jesus summarized the entire Law of the Bible in two commands: love God and love others. You were a great example of love.

    Thank you for disciplining me. I know that sounds strange. I certainly didn’t like it when you made me write every verse in Proverbs which speaks about wisdom. I didn’t like being spanked! You disciplined out of love, though. The writer of Hebrews said

    Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7-11)

    You disciplined because you loved me. I appreciate that now.

    Thank you for music. I am grateful for my musical heritage. You not only had a love for black gospel music which I share to this day, you were a skilled musician and encouraged me to become one, too.

    Thank you for loving Jesus. He was the most important person in your life and He’s the most important person in mine.

    Thank you for discipling me. Actions speak louder than words. You provided me with both. You were not perfect, but you were a living example.

    I saw Jesus in you as you cared for the least of these, repairing cars for single moms.

    I saw Jesus in you as you were generous, giving to not only our church but other ministries, too. I’m not sure how much you gave, but I know it was far beyond the 10% tithe set as a minimum in the Old Testament.

    I saw Jesus in you as you shared Christ with customers and co-workers, never pressuring people but rather inviting them to a personal relationship with their Creator.

    I saw Jesus in you as you used your gift of leadership as the head of the elder board. Your wisdom was deeply needed many times and without you and mom that church would’ve closed decades ago.

    On a side note, do you remember when I asked your forgiveness for judging you? I told you I once thought if you were a REAL Christian you’d become a pastor but I came to realize it would be as wrong for you to leave the marketplace and become a pastor as it would for me to leave vocational ministry for a marketplace career. You impacted so many lives no pastor would’ve ever been able to reach.

    There’s so much more I could write, so many great memories of vacations, ball games, Boy Scouts, car repair, …and your amazing laugh! I love you, Dad. I want to be like You and I can’t wait to see you!

    Your son,



    Dear heavenly Dad,

    Thank you.
    Thank you for blessing me with such an incredible earthly dad. He remains my small-h hero. I miss him so much…and look forward to a reunion someday in heaven. He was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received and I hope to be half the man he was to my wife, kids, and friends.

    Thank You for loving me. Everyone who knows You knows You are a loving Dad. In fact, You are the definition of love! John wrote

    Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

    I know we often misunderstand love. We confuse it with being nice. Love is not tolerant. In fact, they’re often polar opposites. You don’t tolerate us. You’re not passive. Your nature is to give, to have our best interest at heart, and to do whatever necessary to ensure not necessarily our happiness but our holiness.

    Thank you for loving my sisters and brothers here in this room and beyond. Eight months ago you brought our family to Toledo to join this First Alliance family and we are so grateful! We have been encouraged, challenged, and loved-on by great men, women, and children, too. It all began with You and Your love.

    See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)

    There’s so much in those three short verses. You have “lavished” Your love on us…on all of us. We are Your children which means not only a relationship with You but also with one another.

    Thank You for hope. John continues

    Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)

    This world is so broken. It is groaning and grieving. Violence, heroin, injustice, corruption, hunger, hatred, and pride are just a few of the many sins ravaged our planet. They don’t reflect Your glory, purity, love, or peace. We are to be a faithful presence here and now, but we also live with the hope that Christ will appear, we will be like him, and we will see him…which reminds of my greatest thanks.

    Thank You for Jesus! I can’t imagine how people could possibly live without Jesus. You proved Your love to us by sending Jesus (John 3:16).

    This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)

    Oh how I love Jesus! He was the wisest person to ever walk the earth. He was the greatest teacher. He healed the sick. He cast out demons. He modeled for us what it means to be truly human. No other life has been more analyzed or emulated. Yet his life was only part of the story.

    His death was horrific and scandalous, yet so glorious.
    The cross is a symbol of love, of our sins being atoned for, paid for, and ultimately forgiven. You sent your only son on a mission to die…and there’s not greater pain than watching your child die. We’ve seen movies of the crucifixion and imagine the agony of Jesus, but You, Dad, experienced horrific anguish, too. Your one son received the penalty of the sins of your adopted children. No dad has given a greater gift than the gift of Jesus You have given to us. Without the broken body and the poured-out blood of Jesus I would have no hope, no forgiveness, no joy, no peace, and no love. Because of the cross every man, woman and child has the opportunity to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord and experience abundant life with purpose.

    Thank You for disciplining me. The writer of Hebrews was so right!

    No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)

    You disciplined because you loved me. I appreciate that now. I have grown through trials. My character has been shaped through testing. I know You’re not done with me yet (which scares me sometimes!) but I can see how You’ve always disciplined out of love, not hate or anger. You want what’s best for me, and sometimes what’s best isn’t a banana split on the beach (though I’d enjoy that!).

    On a side note, I’m so sorry judging you. There have been so many times when I wanted You to do what I wanted rather than truly seeking Your will. The older I get, the more I realize Daddy knows best, but sometimes it’s hard to trust, especially when I have to wait. I know You are good, though…all the time! Hindsight is 20/20 and now I see the reasons for many of the trials.

    Thank You for music. I love music. I love using music to worship and praise You, though worship is so much more than just singing songs. I want all of my life to bring You honor and glory because You’re worth it. You deserve all worship.

    Thank You for Your Word.

    The vast majority of people throughout history have not had 24/7 access to the scriptures. I’m so blessed to have a copy of the Bible…several, really! I love reading and listening to it on my iPhone. I love studying it. There’s so much to learn and explore about You…and me, too! I’m grateful for the Bible not only for knowledge but also wisdom and understanding…and to know You!

    How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.

    Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119:103-105)

    There’s so much more I could write, so many great memories of answered prayers, perfect timing, unexpected blessings, and unending faithfulness. I love you, Dad. I want to be like You and I can’t wait to see you!

    Your son,


  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • Zephaniah, 27 July 2014

    Big Idea: God loves His children through wrath and blessings.

    Overview: God is going to remove and restore everything: Israel, Judah, the surrounding nations—everything will be judged, and then everything will be made much, much better.


    I have had many defining moments in my life, but one day changed my life more than any other. It was on that day that I became a daddy as my bride gave birth to our first child, Kailey.

    Since I became a dad, I have cherished my relationship with each of our three kids. There have been moments when we have had our differences, but they have always known my unconditional love for them, and though they have occasionally said otherwise in the heat of the moment, I have been secure in their love for me. Next to God, my family is the most important thing in my life. When our kids are good, I’m almost always good. When they struggle, it’s hard for me to think of anything but their struggles. When they are sick, I am burdened to pray and seek any possible healing resource.

    Imagine after raising, feeding, clothing, and sheltering our children they left. I don’t mean they moved away, I mean they left the family. They went to the court and changed their last name to…Jones! Imagine they unfriended me on Facebook, changed their phone numbers, and did everything possible to prevent me from having a relationship with them. How would I feel? How would you feel?

    God is all about relationships. From the very beginning He has created males and females for the purpose of relationships—relationships with Him and one another. Thousands of years ago after our first ancestors broke God’s heart by turning away from Him and rebelling, He made a covenant with Abraham which began the nation of Israel and God was their God, their King. Perhaps there was no greater pleasure God experienced than being with His people who enjoyed being with Him.

    The Old Testament is filled with stories of Israel following God and rejecting Him, running to Him and wandering off, obeying Him and ignoring Him. It’s starting to sound a little like
    The Giving Tree, isn’t it?!

    Although they had no King but God, eventually the people wanted a human king like the surrounding nations. God reluctantly granted them their wish, installing Saul as king, then David and Solomon. As they turned their attention from God and to the world, the nation of Israel split into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah. Both kingdoms fell as enemy armies invaded, first Israel and then Judah.

    We are in the middle of a
    series called the most unread books of the Bible as discovered by BibleGateway.com.

    First we looked at Jonah.
    Then we examined Joel.
    Last week we studied Jude.
    Our book of the week is Zephaniah.

    The book of Zephaniah was written after fall of Israel and before the fall of Judah while Josiah was good, arguably the last good king of Judah. Zephaniah was a prophet—not to be confused with Zechariah (something I did all last week!). Prophets did not predict the future, but they spoke for God on behalf of the people, serving as messengers, in most cases calling God’s people to repentance before judgment, a time often referred to as “the day of the LORD.” It is a phrase used throughout the Bible, especially in the prophets (we saw it in Joel two weeks ago).

    Zephaniah presents two radically different messages:

    1. Woe to those the reject God
    2. Blessings to those who follow God

    This was true thousands of years ago and it’s still true today.

    For the sake of time, we cannot read every verse in the book, despite it being only three chapters long. Instead, I want to highlight the beginning and the end (as read earlier during Scripture reading).

    Zephaniah 1

    The word of the LORD that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah: (1)

    We get great details about Zephaniah’s family. He was not the only one with the name Zephaniah so this distinguishes himself from the others and offers the historical note of Josiah as king.

    “I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” declares the LORD. “I will sweep away both men and animals; I will sweep away the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. The wicked will have only heaps of rubble when I cut off man from the face of the earth,” declares the LORD. “I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all who live in Jerusalem. I will cut off from this place every remnant of Baal, the names of the pagan and the idolatrous priests — those who bow down on the roofs to worship the starry host, those who bow down and swear by the LORD and who also swear by Molech, those who turn back from following the LORD and neither seek the LORD nor inquire of him.

    This does not sound pleasant! God’s more than a little angry, but it is holy anger. Daddy knows best and He knows what is best is for people to love, follow and serve Him, not themselves, and certainly not idols.

    Once again we go back to the first two Commandments—no other gods and no idols.

    Baal and Molech were two common idols of surrounding nations adopted by Zephaniah’s contemporaries and mentioned throughout the Old Testament. Molech, in particular, was associated with death and the underworld. There is some debate as to whether people would fire-walk to appease Molech or even sacrifice children in fire. Either way, worshipping Baal and Molech was detestable to God, a Father heartbroken by His wayward children.

    We get a clue as to why the people abandoned God.

    At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs, who think, ‘The LORD will do nothing, either good or bad.’ (1:12)

    They underestimated God. He will do nothing good or bad. They think God is dead…or sleeping…or aloof. Perhaps they simply forgot about God’s judgment. This was the first lie of satan in the Garden of Eden.

    “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)

    “The great day of the LORD is near — near and coming quickly. Listen! The cry on the day of the LORD will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there. (1:14)

    Here we see the phrase “the day of the LORD” as mentioned in Joel and elsewhere, a day in which God will judge. For the ungodly, it will be a terrible day.

    That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers. I will bring distress on the people and they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like filth. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD’s wrath. In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth.” (1:15-18)

    will judge sin. He is a jealous God, not an insecure lover, but a loving Father who knows what’s best for His children. He wants an intimate relationship with them. He wants to be with them, to bless them, and to know them. When they run off and abandon Him, there is no greater pain, no greater loss.

    Does that fit our view of a “loving” God? Theologian Miroslav Volf had a shift in his thinking after watching his country of Yugoslavia destroyed.

    “I used to think that wrath was unworthy of God. Isn’t God love? Shouldn’t divine love be beyond wrath? God is love, and God loves every person and every creature. That’s exactly why God is wrathful against some of them. My last resistance to the idea of God’s wrath was a casualty of the war in the former Yugoslavia, the region from which I come. According to some estimates, 200,000 people were killed and over 3,000,000 were displaced. My villages and cities were destroyed, my people shelled day in and day out, some of them brutalized beyond imagination, and I could not imagine God not being angry. Or think of Rwanda in the last decade of the past century, where 800,000 people were hacked to death in one hundred days! How did God react to the carnage? By doting on the perpetrators in a grandfatherly fashion? By refusing to condemn the bloodbath but instead affirming the perpetrators’ basic goodness? Wasn’t God fiercely angry with them? Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God’s wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn’t wrathful at the sight of the world’s evil. God isn’t wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love.”

    So the people are in trouble with God. What are they to do?

    Gather together, gather together, O shameful nation, before the appointed time arrives and that day sweeps on like chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD comes upon you, before the day of the LORD’s wrath comes upon you. Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD’s anger. (2:1-3)

    Seek the LORD.
    Seek righteousness.
    Seek humility.

    That’s their only hope.

    Seek the LORD. Jesus said it plainly:

    But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

    How much time do you spend seeking the LORD?

    Seek righteousness. Do the right thing. Follow the perfect example of Jesus. Fill your mind with God’s Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of any unknown sins. Get right with God.

    Finally, seek humility. Don’t try to be humble. As soon as you think you’re humble, you’re not! We underestimate God when we overestimate ourselves. Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. It is how you think of others and God. How great is your God? It should put things in perspective quickly. Idolatry today does not usually involve statues of Baal and Molech but for me, at least, it involves the man in the mirror. Perhaps the best way to attack pride is serving those who cannot return the favor, anonymously blessing the poor, sacrificing your preferences for those of others. As Paul told the Church in Philippi:

    Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

    So What?

    I wish I could view Zephaniah’s audience as a bizarre tribe doing unimaginable things, but it sounds too much like our culture. We often revel in arrogance and pride, praising ourselves for our accomplishments, all the while ignoring our Creator whose very purpose in creating us was relationship.

    God is not a monster out to harm people that don’t obey Him. He’s a loving Father longing to know and be known by His children.

    This week my daughter will move away from her Father, but that won’t end our relationship (thanks to the phone, texting, FaceTime, and transportation). If she ever abandoned me—or if any of our kids renounced our family—I would pursue her out of love, knowing her life and mine will be more satisfying in relationship.

    We serve a gracious God who loves prodigals. He is eager to welcome home the departed. He is a God of wrath to those that dishonor Him, but He’s also a loving Father when His children seek Him.

    The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” “The sorrows for the appointed feasts I will remove from you; they are a burden and a reproach to you. At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the LORD. (3:17-20)

    No matter who you are or what you’ve done, God longs to know you. He takes great delight in His children, singing over us!

    When our kids were little, I loved to sing to them. I loved to hold them and I still do! We can celebrate today knowing that God is alive, He is active, He loves us, and one day we will be with Him forever.

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

    We Are Heard, 23 February 2014

    Big Idea: We are heard by our Father—Daddy!

    Ephesians 3:14-21

    Our world is filled with noise. I don’t mean just sound, though sound is certainly a type of noise. We are daily bombarded with messages—thousands of them—from billboards to telemarketers to television, radio, texts, tweets, Facebook posts, phone calls, e-mails, snail mails, …

    Stop the madness!

    Is it any wonder that we struggle to communicate? Are we surprised that people are misunderstood? Despite all of our communication tools, we do not always effectively use them.

    This is especially true in interpersonal relationships and listening. How many times have you realized someone didn’t listen to a word you said? I’ve got great news this morning. God listens to us. God hears us. He’s with us right now, wants to speak, wants to listen, and wants to do life with us.

    We are in the middle of a series called “Who do you think you are?” a study of the book of Ephesians that examines our identity in Christ. We are in Ephesians chapter three, continuing what Jonathan Hurshman began last Sunday. J.I. Packer offers some profound thoughts about those first fourteen verses of Ephesians 3, a paragraph with a particular pattern:

    Paul is Christ’s prisoner because he’s a preacher of God’s plan and purpose to pagan people, Gentiles (3:1). He counts it a personal privilege to be such a preacher (8) because of his previous poor performance and the power that prepared him for preaching (7) and because of the preciousness of the Person and promise he proclaims (6, 8) and because of the pleasure and the profit produced by his proclamation. He has performed with his pen (3) and now prepares to pray for true perception of the glorious things of which he has been speaking.

    We have earlier noted how the first three chapters are filled with doctrine while the second half deals with application and ethics. Much of these first three chapters is actually a prayer rather than mere information including our text for today which begins:

    For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. (14-15)

    Paul was a man of prayer. He bows before the Father. Posture is important. It communicates to us, God, and sometimes others.

    raise hands
    lay prostrate on the floor

    It’s not uncommon at the PACT Pastors Prayer Summit for people to kneel or even lay on the floor in prayer.

    Paul prayed to the
    Father in the name of the LORD Jesus Christ. This is a model. Jesus said:

    In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. (John 16:23)

    Jesus is our intercessor. He prays for us. We are to pray to the Father or Dad. I actually prefer the word “Daddy.” I love it when my kids call me “Daddy” or even “Dad” since Father seems so formal.

    Paul’s prayers were brief. Jesus’ prayers were brief, including John 17 (the Lord’s prayer for us). Actually, all prayers in the Bible are brief. We need not use vain repetition.

    The shortest prayer in the Bible is…Peter as he was sinking:

    But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30)

    I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (16-19)

    Being a Christian is more than praying a prayer. It is to become a little Christ. Paul wants Christ to live in us. Christ is to be our possession.

    New Testament scholar N.T. Wright translates verse 17

    that the king may make his home in your hearts, through faith; that love may be your root, your firm foundation…

    I love that. Jesus does not want to merely be an historical figure or even a living Person far away; He wants to live in our hearts. We talk about being Jesus with skin on or being the hands and feet of Jesus, but ultimately Jesus wants to live in our hearts. He wants us to be full of Himself!

    This is the only place in the Bible where it says to have Jesus in your heart. He doesn’t want your heart to be a hotel where He stays occasionally but a home where He resides. He wants to live in us and work in and through us.

    Are you full of Jesus? That’s His desire. He wants us full of love and power—His love and power. More of Jesus, less of me! Jesus wants to do life with us.

    He wants us to know God and His love.

    Only the Holy Spirit can lead us into God’s love (again we see the Trinity).

    Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (20-21)

    God hears and answers! This is a fantastic way to conclude a prayer! Listen to these words:

    immeasurably more
    His power
    within us
    glory in the church
    glory in Christ Jesus
    all generations

    Prayer is exciting and powerful!

    You can pray for others…or yourself. It’s ok. Paul prayed three times for God to remove a thorn in his flesh (2 Cor. 12:7-8).

    He is able to do more than we can imagine. I love that! I have quite the imagination, yet I often pray small, weenie prayers! The book of James tells us that “we have not because we ask not (James 4:2). We need to pray big, bold, audacious prayers and see what God does in response. He’s not a cosmic genie, but He loves His children.

    Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)

    Present your requests to God!

    Thoughts on Prayer

    Are you satisfied with your prayer life? Have you ever felt guilty because you don’t pray more? I’ve heard stories about people who spent hours every day on their knees in prayer and I think I’m a loser in comparison; after all, I get paid to pray 40 hours a week, right?!

    Like evangelism, helping the poor, and giving money to charity, we all know prayer is the right thing to do and we
    should do it more, but it’s not easy. In fact, sometimes prayer can be work.


    The key to prayer is the recipient. Who is God? If you view Him as a weak grandpa or an angry monster, prayer will be difficult!

    When we pray, we’re talking to our Dad. That’s it. You don’t need to use fancy words or get formal about it. Just talk to Dad. Don’t focus on prayer but on the Father.

    For some of you, you had a bad dad and have father wounds or you didn’t know your dad. Start with God and His character rather than your earthly father. He promises to be a Father to the fatherless (Ps 68:5).

    I’ve been blessed to have a great dad and watching his health deteriorate has been one of the most gut-wrenching things I’ve experienced. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to pick up the phone and call him, only realize we haven’t had a conversation in years. Nevertheless, the time I’ve spent with my dad has shaped me into the man I am today.

    Becoming a dad has helped me understand God more than anything else. God loves me even more than I love our kids, which is a lot!

    I love it when our kids talk with me. With one in Delaware, one in Grand Rapids, and one occasionally at home it’s often a highlight of my day to receive a text, e-mail, phone call, or—best of all—a FaceTime call from them. On Monday I celebrated a birthday (thanks for the cake last week!) and there was a moment when I was home with Heather and Kailey and I was video chatting with Trevor on one iPhone and Rachel on another so I saw all three of our kids at the same time! It was fantastic!

    They could’ve said “happy birthday” and hung up but, instead, we had a great family conversation for a while, almost as if we were all together in the same room. I loved every second!

    That’s how prayer is to God. The most beautiful sound in the universe to Him is the sound of your voice.

    He loves it when you praise and thank Him for things, just as I do as a dad.
    He loves it when you confess, apologize, and reconcile, just as I do as a dad.
    He loves it when you ask Him for things, just as I do as a dad.
    He even loves it when you are just still and quiet with Him, just as I do as a dad.

    Your Dad loves to be with you, hear from you, and know you!

    There’s nothing like time with your kids, regardless of their age. God doesn’t need us but He wants us.

    How To Pray

    Jesus’ followers struggled with prayer much like we do. In fact, they finally asked Jesus how to pray and He famously said

    “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9b-13)

    Notice Jesus said “our” Father. There’s something special about God’s children praying together. I could’ve had three individual FaceTime chats with our three children on Monday but there was something special about us all being together at once. Dad loves it when His kids get along and share their hearts together.

    Individual Prayer Ideas

    Perhaps you—like me—find it easier to pray with others. Maybe your mind wanders when you’re alone…or even fall asleep when you close your eyes to pray! I have a few practical suggestions for you.

    Pray with others. That sounds obvious, doesn’t it? The Scio Soul lists various prayer gatherings that occur within Scio, including our 8:45 AM Sunday group. They would all love more participants.

    Write out your prayers in a notebook or even a laptop. Some of my best prayers are done on my Mac. I don’t do it daily, but I have literally years worth of prayers that I’ve typed and they provide a great reference for me…and maybe someday my children.

    Use a prayer list. This past week I realized I hadn’t looked at my prayer list in a while and discovered several prayer requests had been answered. A prayer list reminds you not only of things to pray for but also God’s faithfulness with past requests. Remember, God always answers our prayers, just not always how and when we desire.

    Pray continuously. When our children are home, we talk throughout the day. We don’t have to set up a formal appointment. We may schedule a long conversation about a particular matter, but often the best chats are spontaneous and short. Talk with Dad…wherever, whenever. Sometimes I’ll turn off the stereo in my car and talk out loud as if He’s with me—because He is! It’s not uncommon for me to marvel at a sunset, pray for a friend when I see them on Facebook, or grab Heather’s hand and pray when alerted of a crisis.

    Pray on the spot. Have you ever said to someone, “I’ll pray for you” and forgot? It’s embarrassing to have someone thank you for praying when, in fact, you never did! Years ago I e-mail a prayer request to a friend and he e-mailed a prayer back! I’ve done that on several occasions. I’ve also paused from activity to pray with or for someone in the moment.

    Sing. Prayer doesn’t have to be just words. Praise and worship is one way to talk with God.

    Listen. God speaks. It’s usually not audible, but through His Word, circumstances, the church, and prayer He is able to encourage, challenge, convict and guide us. My favorite verses in the Bible, Proverbs 3:5-6, tell us that if we trust Him, He will guide and direct our paths. He has certainly done that in my life more times than I can count. Prayer is not a one-way message but an interactive—albeit unique—conversation.

    If there’s one thing to know about prayer, just do it! Talk with Dad. He loves you. He loves your voice. He’s listening, and your prayers—our prayers—are heard. Hallelujah!


    Our Dad loves us. He wants to know us. He loves to talk with us. He hears us.

    Listen to Eugene Peterson’s translation of the final eight verses in
    The Message:

    I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength— that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

    God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. (16-20)
    Glory to God in the church!
    Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
    Glory down all the generations!
    Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes! (21)



    Some ideas from

    J.I. Packer, Ephesians (sermon series audio)
    Mark Driscoll,
    Who Do You Think You Are (book and podcast series)
    GLO Bible
    Louie Giglio, Passion City Church sermon series
    J. Vernon McGee
    , Thru The Bible, http://thruthebible.ca

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.