For 5 years I was the pastor of Trinity International Church in Strasbourg, France. I created this blog with those people in mind. In mid-November 2018 I will become the Senior Pastor of Word of Life Church in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The focus of this blog will therefore shift, but I pray that people from the blogosphere will continue to find it helpful wherever they might be found.
The churches' websites includes recorded sermons for those who are interested. Click the links below to access them.

Thursday, April 13, 2017


It seems like there are two types of weeds: those that are easy to pull up and those that are difficult.
Some of the worst to deal with are those that are covered with thorns. Thistles and thorny weeds are painful to deal with and often the timid will simply leave them alone. The "clever" my choose to try to incorporate the weed into the garden itself. This is really cowardice rather than cleverness! The longer the weeds are left to grow the more they will take over a garden and the more difficult they will be do finally get rid of.
If the gospel is a seed planted in the garden of our lives, then it should produce an abundant harvest. This harvest is two things.
First, it is the fruit of the Spirit. The gospel should produce increasing amounts of love, joy, peace, etc. (Galatians 5:22-23). The fruit of the Spirit are the normal result of the gospel in the life of a believer.
Second, the fruit is effective ministry. We should be effective in the kingdom of God. There should be results that come, not so much from our own planning and effort, but from the river of life that is flowing through our lives (John 7:37-38).
If these fruits are not being produced in abundance, then something is wrong!

Jesus taught us that one of the most common reasons for a lack of fruit in our lives is the existence of weeds. And in particular, these weeds were thorns. They will be painful to get rid of! Could this be the reason that there is less than expected fruit in our lives and in the life of the church?

Just what are these thorny weeds? Jesus named three:

The Cares of this World.

Jesus, near the very beginning of his ministry, taught his disciples not to be anxious (Matthew 6:25-34). This is a fundamental teaching of the kingdom of God! The cares and worries of this world will smother the gospel in our lives causing a severely reduced harvest. Remember: this means that there will be less of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. We will be experiencing less than what our King desires us to have!

Jesus told us that we need to have faith and confidence in his love and care for us. God takes care of the birds...and he considers us much more valuable than birds! Our anxious thoughts and worried distractions are not helping our lives. They are choking them. The solution is a deeper relationship with God. Growing in our knowledge of Him, his character and his promises, will help us pull the weed of anxiety out of our lives. Jesus told us to seek his kingdom first. This is more than simply making church a priority. It means seeking his presence. If Jesus were sitting right next to you and promising to walk through the next days with you and meet your needs, would you be anxious? No. You would be excited and intensely interested in how he was going to do it.

Jesus is next to you. He is with you. And his has promised to provide for you. So rest confidently in his presence.

Isn't this what Paul discovered as well? Paul wrote that he had learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need (Philippians 4:11-13). In fact, he had already shared it with them. Philippians 4:4-9 contain key lessons that we would be wise to put to use in tearing the weed of the cares of this world out of our lives. At the center of this passage is the knowledge that "the Lord is at hand". He is here. He is present. Rejoice. Ask him for your daily bread (Matthew 6:11). Give thanks. Focus on the positive. Walk in obedience.

The Deceitfulness of Riches

We all hate to be lied to, don't we? One of the greatest and most destructive lies is the equation MONEY = HAPPINESS.

The lie is packaged in a million variations and presented everywhere we look. If we buy this thing or owned that thing or took a certain vacation then we would be happy. We dream of a full bank account (is it even possible to "fill" a bank account?). We think having a new (you fill in the blank) will make us happy. Some even spiritualise it by dreaming of being able to give lots of money to spread the gospel. We accept the lie that those with money are living the "blessed life" while we struggle. 
Jesus could not have made it any more clear: the love of money is a snare that will cause the downfall of many. He warned against focusing on material wealth (Luke 12:13-21). He told a wealthy man that he needed to sell of his possessions to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:16-30). He specifically said that you cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24).

Paul wrote to Timothy about the importance with contentment. In fact, he told him that we should be content with food and clothing (1 Timothy 6:6-8) and that those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and into a snare. They are in danger of being destroyed (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

We must not exalt poverty. Nor must we exalt riches. We must exalt Jesus. 

There are some whose following of Christ will lead them to have jobs or businesses that produce large incomes. If you are in that category, great! The Lord has advice for you (1 Timothy 6:17-19). First, don't be proud. If you are a true disciple of Christ all you have done is obey him. The fact that you have been given material goods does not make you greater in the kingdom. In fact, there are those whose following of Christ has not led to riches who may have important lessons to teach you. So stay humble. Second, don't put your hope in riches. This is a huge danger for you and you will want to develop a habit of regularly laying down your riches before the Lord in prayer. Third, remain a servant of others. Remember that the Lord calls us to humbly serve one another. Look for ways to serve others. Spend time reading John 13:1-20. I know one wealthy person who has a bowl and towel in his office and his home as a reminder to humbly serve others in menial ways. Fourth, be generous and ready to share with others. It is likely that the whole reason you have been granted a large income is to be a means of helping others. Remember: all that you have is from God. You are a manager and not the owner of your wealth. We will all give an account to him for what he has entrusted us with. 

The Desire for Other Things

The greatest commandment is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:29-30). We are called to whole-hearted devotion to Christ. He is to be the one that we are pursuing with all that we have and are. He alone is sufficient to fill the desires of the heart. He alone is capable of giving life meaning. He alone is knows how to touch the deepest places in our lives. He is to be our "glorious obsession."

Paul writes that he was concerned that believers be deceived by the enemy of our souls and led astray from "pure and sincere devotion to Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3). This deception can take many forms. That's why Jesus warns against the "desire for other things" growing like a thorny weed in the garden of our lives. What is that that you desire? What is the focus of your yearning and desire? Is it the Lord...or something else. Have you been distracted by the enemy with his deceptive ways? Is there something that seems "good for food, delightful to the eyes, and could make you wise" that you have been allowing to grow in the garden of your life (Genesis 3:6)? Are you distracted by "the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-17)? If so, a thorny weed is choking the gospel in your life. You are not experiencing the fruit that God desires you to enjoy.

Is it time to weed the garden?

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