Faith & Grace: Two Surprising Conversions in Acts 10

In Luke 14, Jesus tells a story about a generous host who invites his inner circle to dinner. They say yes initially, but then back out at the last minute, so the host extends the invitation to the outcasts in the city and the travelers (strangers!) out in the middle of nowhere. This parable is about God’s invitation to come …

Finding Favor: Ruth and Boaz

“Grace” in the Old Testament is described as finding favor in the eyes of a king or rescuer. Ultimately, God is our king, and living in God’s grace means finding favor in his eyes. There’s a few real-life examples of “finding favor” in the Old Testament that paint a picture of what receiving grace really means. One is Ruth, the …

Transformed by the Word: Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, we explored the dramatic transformation that Israel experienced between Ezra 4 and 5 when God sent his prophets Haggai and Zechariah to speak to them. What could Haggai and Zechariah have possibly said that led to this sudden change of heart? Consider these four big ideas from the book of Haggai. 1. Don’t Build …

Transformed by the Word: Part 1

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” – James 1:22 (NIV) One of the most admirable things about the people of God in the book of Ezra is their willingness to let the word of the Lord transform their lives. Consider the situation at the end of Ezra 4: “Thus the work …

A Time for New Elders

A Time for New Elders Over the past fifty years, Westside has been blessed with an incredible group of shepherds (or elders) who have served the church with compassion, wisdom, and dedication. Shepherds of the church have a high calling from God to care for the flock, to teach and encourage, and to oversee the affairs of the church. Over …

Stories of Revival: Caught in Adultery

Read: John 8:2-11 One day as Jesus was teaching the crowds, the local religious leaders brought forward a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. As a pastor, I’ve sometimes had my sermons interrupted by various distractions, but I can truthfully say I’ve never experienced anything quite like that. There’s no denying that this woman had broken …

Stories of Revival: Second Chances

Read: Matthew 9:9-13 What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you at work? If your name is Matthew the tax collector, the answer is easy: One day, while Matthew was working at the tax collector’s booth, a Jewish Rabbi named Jesus came up to him and said “Follow me.”  When a Rabbi said “Follow me,” they were inviting you to …

Stories of Revival: The Wee Little Man

Read: Luke 19:1-10 Zacchaeus was a wee little man who had a life changing encounter with Jesus in the city of Jericho. As the chief tax collector, Zacchaeus worked on behalf of the oppressive Roman Empire. They were notorious for demanding more than what was actually owed and lining their own pockets for selfish gain. Now if the name Jericho …

Artwork: Jan van’t Hoff / GospelImages.com

Stories of Revival: A Sinful Woman

Read: Luke 7:36-50In Luke 7, Jesus is invited to dinner at the home of a prominent religious leader named Simon. A woman from that same town who lived a “sinful life” (which was a nice way of saying she was a prostitute) learned that Jesus would be there, and rushed to the scene with a special gift in tow: an …

Stories of Revival: Jairus’ Daughter

There’s nothing like a parent’s love for their child. In Mark 5, an important religious leader named Jairus came to Jesus because his daughter had become gravely ill. He was terrified that without some kind of miracle, she wouldn’t make it. For those of us who are parents, we know the fear and desperation that this father felt. It’s a …