Steve's Blog

The Christmas story is filled with contrasts and extremes. On one hand Christ birth brought some extreme joy, while others were filled with terror. One of my favorite opening sentences in all of literature is from Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities.” “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

What a great impact was made when the One who is the Light entered our world as a man. To those shepherds, wise men, and others like Simeon who welcomed and sought after the LIGHT OF THE W...

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My blog post is a day late this week because I was preoccupied with a more pressing issue. On Sunday around midnight, the AGIF website stopped working after an automated system upgrade. I spent several hours on the phone with various technical support people and I kept pressing the point that this situation was their fault because everything was working fine before the upgrade and now it was broken. There was no clear indication of what the problem was and it took many hours of diagnosis on my p...

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Preparing the Way

27th Mar 2020

God says, “Rebuild the road! Clear away the rocks and stones so my people can return from captivity.” The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts. Isaiah 57:14-15 (NLT)

There are Scriptures which call us to “Prepare a way for the Lord.” However, our text clearly directs us to rebuild...

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Give Me This Mountain

27th Mar 2020

The account of Caleb’s life in the Promised Land is found in Joshua 14:6-15 and there are four lessons from his life as we begin this New Year. “I am still as strong today as I was the day Moses sent me out, and I am just as ready to fight now as I was then. So give me the mountain country the LORD promised me that day long ago.” Joshua 14:11–12a (NCV)

The first lesson that we can learn from Caleb is to have a passionate heart for God. There are six references in Scripture that indicate to...

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Take Up Your Cross

27th Mar 2020

What does it mean to “take up our cross?” Some take it to mean a burden such as a physical challenge or a relationship that is difficult. People would describe something in their life and they will tell you that it is “their cross to bear.” But does that have any bearing on Jesus’ call for us to take up our cross and follow him?

There are several accounts in the gospels where at various times Jesus told his followers that if they wanted to be a disciple of his, they must deny themselves, take...

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Endurance

27th Mar 2020

“Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” Hebrews 10:36 (NLT)

The Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines endurance as “the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially: the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity.” I enjoy riding my bicycle, in fact, I will usually ride several thousand miles per year. However, without making any excuses, I recently emerged from...

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Prioritizing Truth

27th Mar 2020

As we study Scripture, we encounter many truths and promises that God makes to us as His children. On one hand, there are promises of blessing and prosperity and on the other, warnings about persecution and hardship. Both are true, the Bible tells us in many places that God blesses and prospers his people and it also tells us that persecution, hardship and suffering awaits those who follow Jesus.

The problem with emphasizing persecution, hardship and suffering and bypassing promises of blessin...

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Faith is a difficult thing to quantify. Jesus said that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed that you would be able to command a mountain to be moved from here to there. The seed of the mustard tree is among the smallest seeds, so we could only imagine what we might be able to accomplish if our faith was much larger, but for most of us even the idea of having mustard seed sized faith is daunting. Many of us probably relate to the father who cried out to Jesus, “I believe, please help my...

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Blessed for a Purpose

27th Mar 2020

Blessed for a Purpose

It should go without saying that we should be thankful year around and not just on the 4th Thursday of November. It is wonderful that we set aside one day in particular to express our gratitude and Thanksgiving for all the blessings that God has given to us, however with the blessings that we have received comes an obligation.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do...

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Have Faith in God

24th Mar 2020

“Have Faith in God.” These words from Jesus follow immediately after the observation that the fig tree that Jesus had cursed earlier in the day had indeed withered and died and they immediately precede the statement by Jesus in which he said, “I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.” Mark 11:23 (NLT)

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"But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father." John 15:7–8 (NLT)

What did Jesus actually mean when he said, "you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!" Did he really intend for us to think that there was no boundaries regarding our requests? Can we ask for extravagant amounts of money or fame? Perhaps, but I believe...

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A Great God

23rd Mar 2020

“For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods.” Psalm 95:3 (NLT)

The percentage of Christians who would agree with the declaration “The Lord is a great God” is probably pretty high, but what does it really mean to us and in what ways does it affect our outlook on life?

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Giving Birth

23rd Mar 2020

Writers know that a provocative title can entice people to read what they have written. However, the ploy cannot be overused because it will soon lose its effectiveness. I am writing this because I have been inspired by the words of Paul to the Galatians. “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” Galatians 4:19 (NIV). Paul used the illustration of childbirth to convey the seriousness and determination that he had to see the life and character of Christ developed and formed in the lives of those who were in the church at Galatia.

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What Does Love Think?

23rd Mar 2020

Although I have my thoughts on what is going on in the world pertaining to the torture and martyrdom of Christians, a better question might be, “What does love think?” I have been particularly struck by a phrase in 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NKJV), “(Love) thinks no evil.” Other translations such as the NIV render the text as “it keeps no record of wrongs.” In either case, I would like to explore the question, what does love think and do my thoughts align with it?

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It is not uncommon to hear the words praise and worship used in tandem and even interchangeably, but do they really mean the same thing? On one level they may seem the same, but there are significant differences.

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Good Fruit

23rd Mar 2020

“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes.” Luke 6:43–44 (NLT)

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Believe

23rd Mar 2020

“Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:28–29 (NIV)

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“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:13 (NIV)

Many Christians believe that sound doctrine or teaching is important, but they do not always know why it is important. Sound doctrine is not an end in itself, but instead it serves as guard rails to keep us on the road of faith. Following sound doctrine will lead to sound living, sound ministry and sound hope. When we look at the results of following sound doctrine we can...

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Dealing with Criticism

23rd Mar 2020

“To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person.” Luke 6:27–28 (The Message)

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Ed Wynn was a popular vaudevillian comedian and actor in the early part of the 20th century. One of his on-stage props was an 11 foot pole to reach out and touch people that other people would not touch with a 10 foot pole. In a memorial tribute to my grandfather, Winston Mattsson-Boze made this application, “We stood for a new kind of Pentecost-- one that held an open spirit, and it refused to choke somebody out because they wouldn’t conform…Ted had an 11 foot pole. Our dealing with difficult ...

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We Are the Body

22nd Mar 2020

When we asked Jesus to forgive our sins, and we accepted his gift of salvation, we became a member of the great and glorious body of Christ. But there is also an expression of the body of Christ at the local level; we are many members with many different backgrounds, gifts, interests and abilities. This is in part a mystery as to how God can take different people from different backgrounds and experiences and mold us and unite us together into the body of Christ.

The body of Christ is not a cl...

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Pressing On

22nd Mar 2020

There are 2 dangers that we face in life as followers of Christ Jesus. On one hand, we can become so discouraged by the trials of life, our apparent lack of progress were simply the state of the world around us, but we simply stop trying, while on the other hand, we may think that we have arrived and therefore we can rest on our accomplishments. While these may seem to be polar opposites, the effect on ourselves and those around us is the same, nothing further is accomplished.

In the 3rd chapt...

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Motivated By Love

22nd Mar 2020

Motivation is a huge component in our lives and we quickly realize that not everyone is motivated by the same factors. In the business world and in athletics, the leaders who excel are the ones who have learned how to use a variety of incentives and disciplines to maximize their organization’s effectiveness. Someone who is good at motivation helps others by getting them to focus on things larger than themselves.

The apostle Paul had a difficult relationship with the Christians at Corinth, in p...

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Mercy and Judgment

22nd Mar 2020

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:12–13 (NIV)

It is a difficult time for many people who believe that their way of life and their beliefs are under attack from many sides. Issues of terrorism, immigration, instability in financial markets along with moral and social upheaval trouble many people today including Christians. While...

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Powerful Love

22nd Mar 2020

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

God does not give us a spirit of fear, but from where does it come? It begins with our experiences in life. We begin with a childlike faith, but as the disappointments and heartaches come our way, so do our fears. Obviously some fears are healthy, but all too frequently we project our fears upon God and in doing so we create barriers which prevent us from experiencing everythin...

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