Obedience and trust as fruit and root

When I was a child, we often sang a hymn that admonished us to "trust and obey," assuring us that "there's no other way to be happy in Jesus." The two verbs go together: we obey because we trust, and because we trust we obey. Trust and obedience are well-suited companions, but more. Related, but more. They live in symbiotic relationship, each nourishing and being nourished by the other, each … [Read more...]

God, the gospel, and the nations’ obedience

When God chose Israel as his special people and covenant partner, it was his intention through them ultimately to bless the world. "By your descendants," God promised Abraham, "shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 22:18). God blessed Israel so that, through Israel, all nations would be blessed. The chosen people prayed: "May God . . . bless us, that thy . . . [saving power] may be … [Read more...]


Long before humans existed, God already knew that they would reject him and fall into sin and death, and he graciously planned in exquisite detail how he would rescue them and bring them back to himself. God imagined these details for his own joy and pleasure in contemplation, but he told no one his imaginations in great detail. When the time was right and God actually pulled off this Rescue, it … [Read more...]

Walking through a strange land home

Do you ever feel a longing for home, but a home not of this world? If so, there is a very good reason, and First Peter just might be what you need to see you through this day. Written originally to Christians in five Roman provinces, it is clearly a legacy for the church at large, consisting of individuals Peter describes as God's chosen ones but strangers in this world. That double (and … [Read more...]

Ask God about Jesus-man in Kenya and you

ASK GOD ABOUT JESUS-MAN IN KENYA AND YOU I do not normally use gracEmail for this purpose (to do so could quickly consume every issue), but I come today urging you to consider a special need in Africa and to ask God if you are to be a part of the solution. George Odhiambo is a Jesus-man in Kenya in East Africa, with whom Sara Faye and I have had contact for several years. He and his wife … [Read more...]

what our people must learn

"You will know them by their fruits," Jesus said when warning his disciples about false teachers (Matt. 7:15-20). Teaching and living go together. Say something often enough, or just hear it said, and you will soon be living as if the thing being said is true. Which brings us to Titus. Paul stationed Titus in Crete to amend what he found defective and to ordain elders in every town. The Cretan … [Read more...]


What a sense of awe and wonder Moses must have felt, there in the silence of the wilderness, when God spoke to him from the burning bush! Can we even imagine the awful terror with which the Israelites waited to hear God speak from Mount Sinai--the mountain quaking, its form hidden by smoke, the air charged with lightning on a day as black as night? What awesome joy surged through Peter, James, and … [Read more...]


A gracEmail subscriber writes: "I want to grow in my relationship with God, but I'm now struggling with where the Bible fits into the equation. How do I approach scripture to apply it to my faith journey?" * * * The best place for learning how to approach scripture is Scripture itself. The 39 books that we call the "Old Testament" were regarded as sacred writings by the Jews before there … [Read more...]


As we approach this Christmas season--indeed, as we live any day in any year--are there guidelines, principles, or maxims from God to direct our shopping and to guide our giving? Indeed there are, including a healthful cluster of instructions found in 1 Timothy 6:17-19. We might have overlooked them, because they are directed to "those who are rich" and we assumed that meant someone … [Read more...]


As we celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the United States this year, the holiday is a good time to remember that thanks and giving properly go together. For God's gracious gifts to us, we give thanks. The expression "say grace" means giving thanks. Because we are thankful, we give to others in need. The circle is completed when those to whom we give, themselves give thanks to God. This year … [Read more...]