He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work . . .  (Exodus 35:35)

In the book of Exodus, we read the detailed account of the construction of the tabernacle, the sacred tent that God promised to occupy in the midst of His people as they made their way into the Promised Land. Workers were needed to build the tabernacle, and the Lord gave these workers special skills to get the job done.

Did you know that God has given special, supernatural skills to all of His children to assist in the building project of the expansion of His kingdom in this world? Here is something you must remember: God never calls the equipped for His work; rather, God equips all those He calls. Every child of God has been equipped for the work of ministry in the expansion of His kingdom.

Those who worked at building the tabernacle had been blessed with various skills; they were designers, weavers, jewelers, embroiderers, and wood carvers, all with the necessary wisdom and intelligence to do what God needed done.

So, let me ask you a very important question: What supernatural skills has God given to you?

Whatever you are good at, whatever you enjoy doing, whatever you do that seems to fit you like a glove, these are areas in your life that God has equipped you in to excel in the expansion of His kingdom. Your gifts, talents, and abilities are unique to you, which makes you invaluable for the work that God has called you to do. There is no one else whom God has made like you. You are a vital component of His work.

Perhaps you are gifted in administration, hospitality, or teaching. Maybe you are gifted as an encourager or a prayer warrior or one who visits the sick or shut-ins. If you are not sure what your supernatural skill set might be, consider what those closest to you might say. Those who know you well will be able to offer valuable insight into your supernatural wiring and suggest where you may be able to plug in and contribute.

Here is a thought that I hope you will find to be as encouraging as it is empowering: God does not need any of us to accomplish His purposes in this world, but He wants all of us and gives us exactly what we need in order to do exactly what He is calling us to do.

May these words from the apostle Paul inspire you engage in the work of ministry that God has uniquely gifted you to perform:

We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

You have been formed and fashioned by God to do good works; He has filled you with the supernatural skill you need to perform them; how could you possibly do poorly? Go forth and rejoice in doing the work of the Lord!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!


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Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Because the Christian life is a series of ups and downs . . . highs and lows . . . victories and defeats . . . we all must come to terms with the challenging concept of cosmic continuance, because the fact of the matter is that the life of the Christian will continue as a series of ups and downs . . . highs and lows . . . victories and defeats.

In every culture except the culture of Christianity, our identity is found in our performance. In the more traditional Eastern cultures, identity is wrapped up in the family or community. When you are serving the family or community well, you feel good about yourself; when you are not serving them well, you don’t. In the West, identity is wrapped up in the individual. The good of the individual trumps all other goods, including the good of the family or the community. When you are doing well, you feel good about yourself; when you are not doing so well, you don’t.

Only in Christianity is your identity fixed, regardless of your performance. This consistency creates a continual state of cosmic continuance.  You see, when we are in Christ, we don’t look to our performance to find our value and worth. Rather, we are to look to the Person of Jesus Christ, who has fixed our true value and worth in Him. When we locate our value and worth in Christ, nothing can diminish or discontinue it in any way, and we are now living at a level of cosmic continuance.

Your performance will always vary depending upon the circumstances you are experiencing, and if you are looking to your performance to give you a sense of identity, your sense of value and worth will vary accordingly. The lack of continuance in your Christian life can feel like a crushing blow and a hard burden to bear. But if you fix our eyes on the person of Jesus Christ, you will be rooted in a cosmic continuance that is eternal, unchanging, and immovable.

So when you are dealing with the inevitable ups and downs . . . highs and lows . . . victories and defeats in the Christian life, keep looking past yourself to your Savior for your value and worth. And if any of life’s extreme lows or defeats are pressing in on you, remember these words from our loving Lord: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3). God has always loved you! He sent His beloved son to die for you so that you can be with Him forever. He has promised never to leave you or forsake you. That is the ground for our cosmic continuance, the ground which provides the rich soil from which springs “the peace that passes all understanding” that is promised to every Christian.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.       (Psalm 147:4-5)

When was the last time you mediated on the greatness of God? Of all the means of grace that God has provided to assist us in the process of growing and maturing in our faith, such as Bible study, prayer, and church attendance, there is something supernaturally special about marinating in God’s greatness. Make no mistake, the Almighty is greater than all “mighties.”

Pharaoh in Egypt thought he was mightier than the Almighty; he stubbornly refused to free the children of Israel from bondage. After ten devastating plagues crushed the Egyptian nation under their weight, Pharaoh finally realized the Almighty is greater than all mighties.

King Nebuchadnezzar thought he was mightier than the Almighty; he arrogantly declared, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” Yet even as this mighty king was uttering these words of praise to himself, God spoke, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven away from his kingdom and “ate grass like the ox, his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.” Nebuchadnezzar finally realized that the Almighty “does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth” (Daniel 4:30-35); the Almighty is greater than all mighties.

Satan thought he was mightier than the Almighty; he used his sinful servants—self-centered Judas, the self-righteous Jewish religious leaders, and the sin-filled Roman guard—to falsely accuse Jesus of crimes He did not commit, to crucify Him on a cross, and to bury Him in a tomb. But three days later, Jesus walked out of His tomb, and Satan and all of his sinful servants finally realized that the Almighty was greater than all mighties.

The question I need to ask you is this: “Do you know this truth?” Regardless of where this message finds you today, whatever has come up against you has come up against your God . . . and the Almighty is greater than all mighties. No weapon formed against you will prevail. Greater is the power that is at work within you than any power that is arrayed against you.

The apostle Paul prayed for you and me that, as children of the Most High God, “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead . . .” (Ephesians 1:18-20).

You trusted the mighty power of God when He raised you from death to life. Why not trust that same power today, no matter what you are facing? Meditate on the glorious truth that the Almighty is greater than all mighties, and you will be prepared to share His love with everyone you meet this day.

Let me close with these words from Hillsong Worship, “The Greatness of our God” —

No sky contains,

No doubt restrains,

All You are,

The greatness of our God.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Then [the angel] showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”

Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”

Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.” (Zechariah 3:1-4)

Do you see yourself in this vision of Joshua the high priest that was given to Zechariah? Read on, and may the Spirit of our loving Lord fill you with strength and encouragement today!

I don’t know how often you spend time in the book of Zechariah, but it would be easy to skim past this passage and miss the rich application that is there for every child of God. After all, what does this interaction between the Sovereign Lord, the accuser of the brethren, and one who served as a high priest before the Lord have to do with our daily lives? Answer: Everything!

We are all dressed in the filthy clothes of our own self-salvation projects. And when the day comes when we stand before the Lord God Almighty—for we all must appear before the judgment seat of God (Romans 14:10)—and the Lord asks us why we should be allowed into His perfect heaven, if we plead that we’ve been “a good person,” we stand condemned before the Lord, for “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). As Isaiah said so powerfully, “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” I won’t go too far into the literal meaning of the Hebrew that Isaiah used, but the “filthy rags” Isaiah refers to are garments that are totally soiled and utterly unfit for any future use.

No matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, our so-called “good deeds” fall miserably short of God’s perfect, righteous standards of holiness. And Satan is always at our side, reminding us with that horrible hiss, “Look at you! You’re not good enough. Look at the holiness of the Lord; compared to Him, you’re a worm, a slug. You’re only fit for the hog pen!”

And do you know what? Apart from Christ, in this instance the father of lies is telling the truth! We are vile and corrupt, and we drink in sin like a dog laps up water (Job 15:16). The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and we are dead men walking, doomed to become branches tossed into the fire of God’s righteous judgment against our sin.

But God (surely these are the two most glorious words in all of sacred Scripture!) purposed before the creation of the world to offer us salvation, a redemption we can never earn or deserve. When we, by God’s gift of grace, place our trust in Jesus Christ, God snatches us from the impending fire of judgment, takes off the filthy clothes of our sin, and clothes us in the sinless, spotless robes of righteousness reserved for those who belong to Christ. When we are in Christ, God the Father no longer sees the filthy rags of our sin . . . only the rich garments of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

There is a remarkable scene in the 2003 movie Luther, in which Joseph Fiennes, portraying the man who launched the Protestant Reformation, tells a group of Christians –

So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: “I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God. Where He is, there I shall be also.”

Christian, Jesus Christ has made atonement on your behalf. All your sins—past, present, and future—are paid for in full. You are clothed in the righteousness of God the Son . . . and He will look upon you with love for all eternity.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles . . . (Galatians 1:15-16 NASB)

Were you startled when you read the title to today’s message? Perhaps you thought, “Set apart to preach?! I thought only a few are called by God to stand in the pulpit.” That’s true; only a few have been called to preach from a pulpit . . . but every believer has been set apart to preach. Allow me to explain, and I hope you will be encouraged to fulfill the holy calling God has placed on your life.


More than any New Testament writer, the apostle Paul set forth the doctrine of sovereign election—the understanding that we did not choose God, but He chose us according to His pleasure and will. Perhaps Paul’s most familiar exposition of election is laid out in Ephesians 2:8-10, which clearly reveals that God chose us and set us apart for His own purposes:

It is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Perhaps you have experienced one of those dark nights of the soul when you told yourself, “I don’t matter.” Perish the thought, Christian! You mattered enough to God that He chose you in Christ before the creation of the world to be His.


You may look at today’s passage and think that I am trying to make today’s verse “do tricks”—that Paul was speaking of God’s call on his own life, not on yours. Perhaps you’re telling yourself that God called you to be a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker . . . not a preacher.

I’m perfectly willing to grant that today’s verse is specific to Paul. He clearly said that God was pleased to make Jesus known through him, “so that I might preach him among the Gentiles.” But if you’ve been reading “Grace for the Race” for any length of time, you are familiar with Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 28:19-20, which we call “The Great Commission.”

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Galatians 1:16 may be specific to Paul alone, but the Great Commission most certainly is not! Jesus’ words were addressed to us all. It’s true that God may not have called you to stand in a pulpit; but He most definitely has called you to preach the Good News of salvation to all people—to your family, your neighbors, your classmates at school, your coworkers, members of your community, even complete strangers.

Martin Luther spoke of the priesthood of the believers—the idea that every Christian is called to speak forth the Word of God. As Peter wrote, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Men who stand in the pulpit often pray that God would use them to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Christian, I hope today’s message has had that effect on you. Be comforted that God called you through His grace to be His; he has loved you with an everlasting love! But I pray that you will feel a sense of affliction if you are ignoring the holy calling God has placed on your life, because He has set you apart to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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heart cloud

Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” (John 13:25)

John’s gospel recounts the Last Supper in great detail, including observations not offered in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke.) One of these unique elements is a brief exchange that took place between Peter and John. After Jesus told the disciples that one of them would be betray Him, the disciples were dismayed and confused, and they wondered which of them could possibly do such a terrible thing.

Only John tells us that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (that disciple undoubtedly being John himself) was reclining next to Jesus at the table. (Reclining at a supper table, rather than sitting at the table as we do today, was the common posture in that culture at that time.) Peter motioned to John and suggested, “Ask him which one He means.”

At that point, we read that John leaned back against Jesus and asked, “Who is it?” Several respected translations of the original Greek render John 13:25 as saying that John actually laid his head on Jesus’ chest, just like a child snuggling with his daddy.

Think about that for a moment; it’s almost inconceivable! The God whom no one can look at and live (Exodus 33:20) . . . the God who would later manifest Himself to John with a sharp, double-edged sword coming out of His mouth (Revelation 1:16) . . . the God who commanded Moses to take off his shoes, because the very ground surrounding Him was holy ground (Exodus 3:5) . . . that same God, He who dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16), allowed John to cuddle with Him!

And you and I are invited to do the same . . . at any time of the day or night.

We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

(Hebrews 4:15-16)

Is there a question that is troubling you? Are you overwhelmed by your sin? Are you confronted by a personal or professional crisis? Lean against Jesus and ask Him to meet you at your point of need. You can approach Him with confidence, knowing that He will embrace you with His love and grace.

Far too many people—both Christians and unbelievers alike—feel that they dare not approach God until they have “cleaned up their act.” They believe that God is righteous, holy, and pure (which is perfectly true), that they are unrighteous, unholy, and impure (also true), and thus God wants nothing to do with them until they have completely forsaken their sinful ways—and that notion is wildly untrue!

I could fill a book with the passages of Scripture that encourage sinners to come to Christ, to lean against Him, and ask for help. Let’s return to Hebrews for just one of these encouraging assurances:

[Jesus] had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

(Hebrews 2:17-18)

I long ago lost count of how many times guilt-ridden people have said to me, “If you only knew what I think and say and do! How could God possibly want anything to do with me?”

I’ll reply that it’s true, I don’t know what you’ve done, but God does, and He wants everything to do with you for all eternity! He wants it so badly that He sent His only begotten Son to die for your sins. Whether you’ve been a Christian for decades or you have never placed your trust in Christ for eternal life, He holds out His nail-scarred hands to you and invites you to lean against Him—He invites you to snuggle with Him! He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

On Monday we looked at the “Believer’s Betrothal” and God’s eternal commitment to each one of His children. Today, I want to pause and look at the “Boland Betrothal” and God’s commitment to Kim and me in the holy covenant of marriage.

What started out as “I do” and has continued with “I still do” is simply a testimony to the unmerited, unwavering, and unending grace God has poured out upon us in these past 26 years of marriage. I think back to the marriage counseling we received from Dr. Evans at the Church-By-The-Sea when we knew Jesus only by name, and I can see God’s loving and patient hand upon us. When I recall those sessions and when we watch our wedding video, it never ceases to amaze me how Gospel-centered and Christ-saturated were the words that Dr. Evans used in both preparing us for marriage and in performing our ceremony, and I am reminded of the words of Steve Brown: “God knew you and took care of you before you knew Him.”

Two-and-a-half years after saying “I do,” God gave us the gifts of repentance and faith, which enable us both to utter the two most important words any person can say: “I believe!” I am convinced that without those two words of life, the first two words would have been exchanged for “I don’t!” But God had a perfect plan for our imperfect lives, and He continued pouring out His grace and mercy upon our marriage—not only daily, but moment by moment as we worked together in the field of health and fitness.

Then, in December of 1996, God gave us the gift of parenting our first son, Brock. In September of 1998 He gave us the second gift of our first daughter, Jenna. During the next four years, God moved us out of the field of health and fitness into Christian teaching, and then He gave us our third gift in October 2002: our second daughter, Katie. And in March of 2004, God filled our quiver with the gift of the Tank. It is truly hard to believe that Brock will be graduating college in May, at which point Jenna will be at the half-way point, and Katie and Tank getting close to entering college! Soon Kim and I will be empty nesters.

I think back to March 2012 when God called us to be church planters. I’m sure some people thought we were crazy at my age, but after much prayer, preparation, and the commitment to do this as a family, we launched and our Lord has continued overwhelming us with His unmerited, unwavering, and unending grace these past seven years.

Kim, I really do not have the words to say what I truly feel in my heart for you. All I know is that I could not have pastored our church these past seven years without you by my side. You have sacrificed in every way to fulfill God’s heavenly purpose in marriage, both as a wife to me and a mother to our children. And you’ve done it for the glory of God. You surrendered to His will and submitted yourself for the good of your husband and your beloved children, and today I want to thank you in the best way I know how: with the word of God –

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

(Proverbs 31:28)

Happy 26th Anniversary to a Proverbs 31 woman . . . to my best friend and my true love.

I love you and I’m praying for you.


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