It’s Thursday, again, and every preacher is feeling the increasing pressure of the Sunday morning sermon.
Every small group teacher is anticipating the lesson, whatever the age level they will work with.
Every musician is practicing the worship songs they will play and sing as they facilitate an encounter with our Father through Jesus and the Spirit this Sunday.
Hopefully, too, every believer is starting to look forward to gathering with their church family in a few days.
Spring is coming, Lent is continuing, and Easter is rising in the calendar. And I hope these kinds of prayerful, thoughtful anticipations are happening.
Building up the body of Christ
Denison Forum exists “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:12 NIV). It’s a noble and monumental task we seek to do well for God’s glory and the good of his people.
Our staple equipping tool is Jim Denison’s The Daily Article. Jim’s insight is a continual drip of insight, encouragement, and cultural understanding through a biblical worldview. If you’re not receiving it daily in your inbox or podcast platform, you can sign up here. When I was a pastor, I made The Daily Article required reading for my staff and urgent reading for my leaders and members.
An additional tool we hope you’ll use is the newly renovated Denison Forum website at DenisonForum.org. Here you will find an abundance of topics and timely news items “discerned differently.” To that end, let me point you to two great articles our team produced this week that you can use in your ministry.
- One was written by professional counselor Dr. Lane Ogden. It’s an impressive short course on the positive side of fear and navigating fear in healthy ways with living faith.
- The other article is by our Denison Ministries Creative Director Josh Miller. Josh has been a worship leader, team manager, and Bible teacher in several contexts. His upside-down approach in the “Anti-Beatitudes” is a must-read. It may likely call you to repentance as it did me!
We hope you find these articles and this newsletter helpful in your kingdom work. If so, please share this with other ministers and church leaders you know to help equip them. Consider forwarding this email, or send this link to them, which includes a sign-up form for this twice-weekly newsletter.
One goal we aspire to is to be a trustworthy source of timely, credible, and biblical truth that will make your ministry better and easier.
“God redeems all he allows”
Dr. Denison is known for several sayings. Perhaps the most familiar to those who read and listen to him regularly is this five-word axiom: “God redeems all he allows.”
That is a hopeful and well-anchored truth that can be supported by many scriptures and personal testimonies.
In recent days, I’ve struggled to really believe it, especially as reports of children being injured or killed in Ukraine emerge from the urban war zones. As I pondered that truth in the face of these horrors, I made the statement more personal.
Does God, can God “redeem all I allow”?
I don’t believe in fatalism. I believe our choices matter and that they matter a great deal. Everything has not been decided for either good or bad. In my view, just because God is all-knowing does not mean he has determined or caused everything ahead of time.
One of my friends said that he believes there is an amazing “adaptability” to God’s ultimate will that makes room for the significance of our choices. I think he’s correct.
Regardless of your view of God’s sovereignty, we need to know and trust that God can and will take the whole of our lives and service and weave it into something good and beautiful if we let him.
The first Bible verse I ever learned
My wife and I have built our family around the first Bible verse I ever learned. (It wasn’t John 3:16.) That verse is huge, but it wasn’t my first because I wasn’t raised in Vacation Bible School.
The first verse I learned came from the assistant manager of the grocery store I worked at as a teenager. One evening, Bob shared the truth of Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Over time, that verse solidified into the gospel foundation of my life, my marriage, and my ministry.
Sometime in my newly found faith, the preacher taught me that the verse was as important for what it didn’t say as for what it did communicate. He said the verse does not say that everything that happens is good. It’s not. There is a lot of straight-out evil in each of us and in the world.
It doesn’t say that God causes everything. He doesn’t. God does not cause cancer, car crashes, or wars. Human beings have real agency—our choices matter. We are also impacted by the bad choices of others and a broken world.
It also doesn’t say that everything works out well for all people. Some, because of their choices, will spend eternity separated from God, and there are real, earthly consequences to our decisions.
So where is the hope?
Romans 8:28 says there is great hope whenever we take all the pieces of our lives, the large chunks and the tiny pebbles of success and failure, and entrust it all to him through resilient faith.
We all allow too many godless things into our lives. We are often distracted and too easily deceived away from our kingly Father and his kingdom priorities. But, if we keep putting all of it back on his altar (Matthew 6:33) and recommit it to him daily, he promises to renovate, restore, and redeem all of it for his glory, the good of others, and our good.
What do you need to put back on that altar of worship today?