Need hope and perspective? Consider the position of Jesus’ father, Joseph

That makes whatever we are facing seem a little less overwhelming, doesn’t it? 

Need hope and perspective? Consider the position of Jesus’ father, Joseph

That makes whatever we are facing seem a little less overwhelming, doesn’t it? 

Whatever challenges you face as you head into 2020, but I am certain they are not as great as the one Joseph faced over 2000 New Years ago. 

“Hey Joseph, there’s a bit of a situation with your fiancé, Mary. Now don’t freak out—and don’t break up—but let’s just say she’s coming with some baggage. The kind that will arrive in about nine months. By the way, His name is Jesus, and He’s the Son of God.”

Makes whatever we are facing seem a little less overwhelming, doesn’t it? I know you have real issues: broken families, failing health, addictions, unemployment, overwhelming debt, or a host of other problems. But understanding the significance of the news Joseph received in Matthew 1 can provide us a lot of perspective, and a lot of hope. And who couldn’t use a little more of both as 2020 comes crashing onto the scene?

Want some perspective? There is nothing you or I are going to face this year that the good hand of our sovereign Lord doesn’t already know all about. And just like God brought comfort to Joseph in the midst of his confusion, he wants to bring comfort and assurance to you. Your situation might be a result of man’s (or your) rebellion more than God’s revelation, but take comfort in knowing that whatever your situation, the Lord wants to bring insight, wisdom, instruction and peace into your heart as you deal with it.

Need some hope? How about the hope of knowing that the result of Joseph facing his challenge with grace ended up being part of God’s provision to bring grace into the world. Aren’t we glad that this unplanned pregnancy didn’t meet a tragic end, and as a result we can enter into today, tomorrow and even death pregnant with hope?

This year I resolve to know more about God’s perspective and hope than ever before. I invite you to join me. Check out and jump into his word daily with me.

Are There Different Levels of Sin?

Are There Different Levels of Sin? I answered that question on this episode of Real Truth. Real Quick.


  1. There are certainly different consequences to certain wrong behaviors.
  2. We don’t go to heaven because of what we do or don’t do. We go to heaven because we trust in what Christ has done.
  3. All sins separate us from God. All sins demand a gracious work  from a gracious Savior.
  4. A sin is a sin when talking about what separates you from God, but ammends often look different depending on the harm done to the other person.


“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people,  but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.”   Matthew 12:31

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” James 2:10

“But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” Isaiah 59:2

“…and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ 

shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” Matthew 5:22

“or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”   Matthew 5:48

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” James 2:10

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;…” 1 Thessalonians 4:3

“…not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;” 1 Thessalonians 4:5

“and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also  told you before and solemnly warned you.” 1 Thessalonians 4:6

“And in as much as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,” Hebrews 9:27

“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a citadel.” Proverbs 18:19

Additional Resources:

Is There an Unforgivable Sin?

Is There Such A Thing As An Unforgivable Sin? – Version 2

Does A Person Who Commits Suicide Go To Heaven?

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Can You Be a Christian and Not Be Part of a Local Church?

Can You Be a Christian and Not Be Part of a Local Church? I answered that question on this episode of Real Truth. Real Quick.



  1. You can be a Christian and not be part of a local church, but you will not become like Christ in the way God intends through the means of grace that God intends until you are part of a local body.
  2. You do not go to church: you become a part of a church.
  3. The Church is a source of sanctification, protection, and a source of glory to Him.


“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“…not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor…” Romans 12:10

“We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14

 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

“…for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ…” Ephesians 4:12

“…for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” 1 Corinthians 14:33

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” Hebrews 13:17

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” 1 Peter 2:9

 “He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” Colossians 1:18

“…being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3

Other Resources:

How Do I Become a Christian?

Why Did Todd Wagner Write the Book “Come & See”?

What Does the Bible Say About Covenant Membership And Church Discipline?

What Are Altar Calls, and Are They Biblical?

What Are Altar Calls, and Are They Biblical? I answer that question on this week’s episode.

Show Notes:


  1. Altar calls are not unbiblical, nor are they a required biblical act.
  2. Don’t measure the effectiveness of your preaching by the immediate emotional response of the people.
    • Matthew 13:5-6
    • Matthew 13:7,22
    • Matthew 4:18-19
    • Matthew 16:13-17
  3. If someone can convince you of something, somebody else can convince you differently.
    • 1 Corinthians 2:1-4
  4. Good preaching is faithful to the text and tells people the truth about who they are, who Jesus is, and the necessity to respond to Him.
    • Galatians 5:19-20
    • Galatians 5:22-23
    • Acts 2:36-38
    • Romans 10:9-10
    • John 16:8
  5. Pastors are called to make disciples who then identify with Christ through baptism, and to teach disciples everything that Jesus commanded.
  6. You aren’t saved because you come to an altar call, you are saved by a deep, heartfelt belief in who Jesus is and His provision for sin.

Helpful Resources:

1. Can I Lose My Salvation?
2. Can I Believe In Jesus and Not Be Saved?
3. How Do I Know If I am Saved?
4. (SERMON) Salvation

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Is the Enneagram Helpful, Harmless, or Heresy?

Is the Enneagram Helpful, Harmless, or Heresy? I answer that question on this week’s episode of Real Truth. Real Quick.

Show Notes:


1. Is There a Biblical “Right and Wrong” On Everything?
2. How Do I know If I Have the Holy Spirit in Me?
3. What is The Baptism of the Holy Spirit?

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What Is “Join The Journey”?

What Is “Join The Journey”? I answer that question in this week’s episode.

Show Notes:

1. Is It A Sin Not To Read Your Bible?

2. What Book of The Bible Should I Read First?

3. What’s The Best Bible Translation?

4. The Bible (SERMON)

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What is Compassion Fatigue?

What is compassion fatigue? Gary Haugen with International Justice Mission (IJM) and I discuss that question on this week’s episode of Real Truth. Real Quick.

Show Notes

1. Why Doesn’t God Stop Mass Shootings and Terrorists?

2. How Do You Respond to a Friend Experiencing a Tragedy or Crisis?

3. What Does it Mean to Be in Biblical Community?

4. What Can Christians Do Locally to Fight Global Injustice?

5. Is Modern Slavery Real?

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Don’t Follow Your Passions…Follow Him

As I sat down January 1 to shepherd myself and my kids I decided to come up with a group of questions that we could ask ourselves EVERY DAY to evaluate how we are abiding with the One we profess to follow.  It all starts with daily learning more of Jesus and His ways and continually yielding to His Spirit which dwells in all who believe.  My deep conviction is that as our lives increasingly have full and meaningful answers to the following questions our lives will increase in joy, fullness and serve as a greater source of glory to our King.  I am sure you can improve on my list of questions, but as for me and my house, we are going to purpose to improve our ability to faithfully answer them every day (Matt 6:33-34).  Feel free to add your own….but in all your adding stay focused on using them to sharpen each day the Lord gifts you (Psalm 90:12). Check out more on these by listening to what I shared at Watermark this past Sunday here.  Hope you are encouraged!

What have you done to grow in wisdom and stature today?
What do you know today about God, His Word or His purposes that you did not know yesterday?
What are you going to do differently as a result of what you have learned?

1 Tim 4:7; James 1:22

How is this world or are others better today because you have stepped up and been God’s servant?
When you showed up, how was evil restrained, injustice conquered, love multiplied, captives rescued and/or joy increased.

Luke 4:16-21

What have you done today to make someone else know of God’s great love for them?  Has your motivation for everything been love of God and others?
“May this small act of kindness remind you of God’s great love for you.”

1 Cor 13:1

Have you laughed out loud today?
Have you laughed uncontrollably?
Have you laughed till you cried?
Have you made others laugh much today?

Prov 17:22

LIVE generously:
How have you shown generosity today?  Who is better off because God stewarded you with His resources?

2 Cor 8:9

LIVE with gratitude:
How have you expressed a heart filled with Thanksgiving today for the multitude of blessings you have received?

Eph 5:20;

LIFT others up:
Who have you encouraged today with a word, a phone call, an email, a note or a card?

Heb 3:13

LEAN on others:
Who are you relying on to spur you on?  Confront you? Shepherd you?
Who has access to your heart? Who faithfully reproves you?  Sharpens you?  Admonishes you when you are unruly?
When is the last time you repented and changed because someone who loves you “smote you in kindness”.

Ps 141:5; Pr 13:20

LIVE it all by faith (by yielding to the Spirit):
What have you done today that only makes sense because you believe in the grace of Christ and the resurrection of the dead?
Have you lived today by faith? By the power of in constant relationship with the Spirit?

Col 1:29; Eph 5:18


Generation Why


Many of you have asked for the “Generation Why” letter that I read at Watermark in response to the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut.  If you weren’t with us on December 16th and missed hearing the message on “Darkness in Newtown and the Light of the World”, I’d encourage you to check it out here so that you are equipped to answer questions posed by those who are appropriately hurting, confused, and skeptical that the God we serve is in control of such evil.  The letter was originally written in response to the Columbine shootings by Marcy Musgrave, who at the time was a junior at Texas A&M.  I hope you read this and are spurred on to pray diligently for our country as darkness continues to increase.  My prayer is that after watching the message you are ready to join me in lovingly shepherding the lost and hurting people around us. Pray with me friends…first for the church to do its job (Matt 5:14-16; 1 Peter 2:9; Phil 2:14-15) and for the families of those who lost loved ones in Newtown. May the Gospel bring comfort and peace into a town and country where chaos and confusion are increasing daily.

I am a member of the upcoming generation—the one after Generation X that has yet to be given a name.  So far, it appears that most people are rallying behind the idea of calling us Generation Next.  I believe I know why.  The older generations are hoping we will mindlessly assume our place as the “next” in line.  That way, they won’t have to explain why my generation has had to experience so much pain and heartache.  “What heartache?” you say.  “Don’t you know you have grown up in a time of great prosperity?”  Yeah, we know that.  Believe me, it has been drilled into our heads since birth. Unfortunately, the pain and hurt I speak of can’t be reconciled with money.  You have tried for years to buy us happiness, but it is only temporary.  Money isn’t the answer, and it is time for people to begin admitting their guilt for failing my generation.  I will admit that I wasn’t planning to write this.  I was going to tuck it away in some corner of my mind and fall victim to your whole “next” mentality.  But after the massacre in Littleton, CO, I realize that as a member of this generation that kills without remorse, I had a duty to challenge all of my elders to explain why they have allowed things to become so bad.  Let me tell you this:  These questions don’t represent only me but a Whole generation that is struggling to grow up and make sense of this world.  We all have questions; we all want explanations.  People may label us Generation Next, but we are more appropriately Generation “Why?”

“Why did most of you lie when you made the vow of ‘til death do us part’?” “Why do you fool yourselves into believing that divorce really is better for the kids in the long run?”

“Why do so many of you divorced parents spend more time with your new boyfriend or girlfriend than with your own children?” “Why did you ever fall victim to the notion that kids are just as well off being raised by a complete stranger at a day care center than by their own mother or father?”

“Why do you look down on parents who decide to quit work and stay home to raise their children?” “Why does the television do the most talking at family meals?”

“Why is work more important than your own family?”

“Why is money regarded as more important than relationships?” “Why is ‘quality time’ generally no longer than a five- to 10-minute conversation each day?”

“Why do you try to make up for the lack of time you spend with us by giving us more and more material objects that we really don’t need?” “Why does your work (in the form of a cell Phone, laptop computer, etc.), always come with us on vacations?”

“Why have you neglected to teach us values and morals?”

“Why haven’t you lived moral lives that we could model our own after?”

“Why isn’t religion one of the most important words in our household?”

“Why do you play God when it comes to abortion?” “Why don’t you have enough faith in us to teach us abstinence rather than safe sex?”

“Why do you allow us to watch violent movies but expect us to maintain some type of childlike innocence?”

“Why do you allow us to spend unlimited amounts of time on the Internet but still are shocked about our knowledge of how to build bombs?” “Why are you so afraid to tell us ‘no’ sometimes?” “Why is it so hard for you to realize that school shootings, and other violent juvenile behavior, result from a lack of your attention more than anything else?”

Call us Generation Next if you want to, but I think you will be surprised at how we will fail to fit into your neat little category. These questions should, and will, be asked of the generations that have failed us.  You have pursued your selfish desires for years, but now is the time to reap what you have sown.  Some rude awakenings like the Littleton massacre have occurred and probably will continue until you can begin to answer our questions and make the drastic changes to put us, your kids, first.  Time is running out, for in just a few short years, we will be grown, and it will be too late. You might not think we are worth it, but I can guarantee you that Littleton will look like a drop in the bucket compared to what might occur when a neglected Generation “Why” comes to power. 

May 2nd, 1998 edition of the Dallas Morning News.

Bono at Watermark?

More than a few folks asked me if I knew about Bono being at one of our services yesterday.  My response when asked was…”I hope he was and pray by God’s grace he was encouraged by the truth shared from the Word and  the truth we declared in song.  As the questions persisted and the pictures circulated…I decided to at least send the below email to my staff team.  Thought y’all might also be helped/encouraged by reading it.

Guys…I have heard some say that we had a “celebrity” hanging around Watermark yesterday.  I frankly don’t know if it is true or not (and if you ask me to speculate I would doubt it…look a likes abound) and I frankly don’t care.  I do care that we love all people well and that we help our people love all people well.  It is a completely normal and unsinful response to do a double take when you see something you don’t expect or have a chance to see something of beauty, tragedy, rarity (see also 2 tickets at fair to see big alligators, short horses, etc….) but, after the initial human response, we, as people informed by a Christ, are not to have a normal response, but rather a supra normal (see also divine) response that rules us.  

Our job is to lovingly help those who are less mature in their faith, or who have no faith yet, act in a manner that makes everyone feel welcome and communicates that we love people because they are people, whether they are homeless or heroes.

I was going to sign this James 2:1-4…but I know I don’t have to.

Let’s make Watermark famous for how we love lost people, care for one another, speak the truth in love and hold fast to our hope and anchor…not for who may or may not have attended.

Love y’all,



Update….I heard later from the friends who brought their friend that my speculation was correct.

If you are interested…this is who was there.  I pray by God’s grace Pavel was encouraged by the truth shared from the Word and the truth we declared in song.