26 January 2008


In JOHN 7:14-18 Jesus answers some objections and offers some practical teaching about Who He is, and what He’d come to do.


14 But when it was now the midst of
the feast Jesus went up into the temple,
and began to teach.

v. 14the midst of the feast … The first time Jesus went to the temple as an adult (JOHN 2:13-16) He cleansed the temple and ran out all the people who turned it from a house of prayer into a den of thieves. And now, when Jesus returns to the temple, He comes to teach. And I see an important FAITH LESSON for us here …


Before you and I can hear and
receive Jesus’ TEACHING, and
begin to internalize and live
out Jesus’ teaching, we need
to invite Him to do some CLEANING
in our minds and in our hearts.

When our lives are cluttered with
unconfessed sin … when we’re
holding things back from God … and
when we live before Him as impostors,
we won’t be receptive to the teaching,
instruction, correction and training
Jesus has for us from His WORD.

And so every time we open up God’s WORD and ask God to teach us, it would be good for us to acknowledge the truth of what King David said in PSALM 66:18 and what he prayed in PSALM 139:23-24

PSALM 66:28; 139:23-24

18 If I had not confessed the sin in
my heart, my Lord would not have

23-24 GOD, look deep into my heart,
and see everything I am thinking.
Help me walk away from evil thoughts
and deeds, and lead me in the way
that time has proven true; Your path,
Your will. (PARAPHRASED)

When you and I choose to deny and ignore the sin in our lives, our fellowship with God is broken. Not because God gives up on us, but because God is serious about us living honest, confessional, holy lives before Him and one another. God knows that when we hide our sin, there are always painful consequences, both in our own lives, and in the lives of the people we’re closest to.

The pathway to the cleaning that needs to take place in our lives is walked on when we stop trying to hide our sins from God, and we confess them. And then, from that place of having been made clean by forgiveness and the receiving of God’s grace, we’re able to receive the teaching, the instruction, and the training God has for us.

If you’ve been part of 2nd Street for a while, then you know I love reading the sermons of the great 19th century American pastor-teacher-evangelist-author-missionary Dwight L. Moody … and you’ve heard me tell some of his stories. Well here’s another one …

ILLUSTRATION … A lady in the north
of England told Moody that every time
she tried to pray, she immediately
pictured five bottles of wine she’d
stolen several years before when she
was a housekeeper. And once the
picture of the five bottles of wine
was in her mind, she felt like her
prayers weren’t making it out of the
room. Moody told her, “You need to
go and make restitution, make amends.”

“But the person is dead,” she replied.

“Are there any heirs?” Moody asked.

“Yes … there’s a son.”

“Then go to the son and pay him back,”
counseled Moody.

And then the lady said, “I want to get things
right between me and God, but I can’t
confess my thievery. My reputation is at
stake.” And with that she left.

But she came back the next day and asked
Moody if it would be okay if she figured out
the price of the five bottles of wine and then
put that amount into the church offering.

“No,” Moody said, “God doesn’t want any
stolen money. The only way to repair the
break between you and God is to make

The lady wrestled with Moody’s counsel
for several days, but then finally traveled
out into the country, found the son, confessed,
and offered him a five-pound note for the
wine she’d stolen. He forgave her … and
said that she didn’t need to give him the
money. But after she’d finally persuaded
him to take it, she traveled back to town
with a joy and peace she hadn’t known for

Gang, the unconfessed sins in our lives are the stumbling stones that keep tripping us up in our desire to move ahead in our faith. Let’s invite confession do the work of cleaning God wants to take place in our lives. God doesn’t want you and me to come to church and shout “Hallelujah” and sing intimate worship songs to Him while at the same time we’re trying to hide sin in our hearts.

Sin builds a wall between us and God. And we might be really well known, we might stand tall in the community, we might be actively involved in the church … our friends might think that everything is okay between us and God … but the real question is, HOW DO WE STAND IN THE SIGHT OF GOD? If there’s anything wrong in you life, make it right. Again, I love how King David talked about this in PSALM 32:2-3


2 Yes, what joy for those whose record
the LORD has cleared of sin, whose lives
are lived in complete honesty!

3 When I refused to confess my sin, I was
weak and miserable, and I groaned all
day long.

So before Jesus taught in the temple, He had to cleanse the temple. And now we see Him teaching. What areas of cleansing do you need to ask God to do in your life so you can become more receptive to His teaching? Godspeed.



11 January 2008

With the National Pro-Life Sunday
coming up on 20 January, I thought
that I'd post the words I shared on
the steps of the Oregon Capital building
one year ago at a state-wide rally.

Good afternoon. My name is Gregg Lamm and I’m a pastor in Newberg. I’ve been married for nearly 26 years to my precious bride Teresa, and am the father of three sons, Ryan, Jesse and Ian, as well as the father of one child who is living with Christ in heaven because of the self-centered choice my girlfriend and I made in October, 1976 to end our child’s life by abortion.

And so while I’m Pro-Life because I’m seeking to be a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, I’m also Pro-Life because of the brokenness the sin of abortion has caused in my own life, and in the lives of people I’ve shepherded as a pastor over the past 23 years.

In August 2004, Dr. Ken Wilson, the then President of Oregon Right-To-Life wrote the following words in a newsletter …

“Why is killing unborn children still legal?
Because we are failing. Protestant and Catholic
Christians have the power to save millions of
precious babies: We just don't."

So why don’t we stand? Maybe it’s because swimming up stream for thirty-four years has left us tired, and somewhat overwhelmed by the miles of moral and legislative reform yet to cover before our journey is over. Maybe it’s because other priorities of our country, which as Judge Robert Bork wrote, “is slouching toward Gomorrah” have distracted us, and at times even paralyzed us.

Archbishop Vlazny spoke of the legal and statistical realities of abortion in our nation … and challenged us to increase our efforts to stand for the rights of the unborn, to be the voice of those whose voices cannot be heard. As we close our time together today I would like to challenge us to …
  • Let God’s WORD and God’s Truth become in new ways the foundation of why we choose to stand up and let our voices be heard … and I challenge us to …
  • Let God’s WORD and God’s Truth be at the root of our convictions to consistently vote Pro-Life … and I challenge us to …
  • Let’s God’s WORD and God’s Truth be the source of our passion and our energy, the source of our priorities, and the source of the stewardship of our time, our gifts, and our resources.

GENESIS 1:27 … So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

ISAIAH 64:8 … Yet, O LORD, You are our Father. We are the clay, and You are the Potter; we are all the work of Your hand.


JOB 31:15 … Did not He who made me in the womb make everyone else as well? Did not the same God form us both within our mothers?

PSALM 139:13-16 … For You [oh God] created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.


ISAIAH 49:1 … Listen to Me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth He has made mention of My name.

JEREMIAH 1:5 … [God says] Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you saw the light of day I had holy plans for you …


JEREMIAH 31:15-17 … A voice was heard in Ramah of painful crying and deep sadness: Rachel crying for her children. She refused to be comforted, because her children are dead! But this is what the Lord says: “Cease your cries of mourning; wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have known will come to an end and there is hope for your future.”

ISAIAH 1:18 … [God says] No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. If your sins are blood-red, when you ask Me to forgive you, they'll become snow-white. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow … as white as wool.

Dr. Wilson went on to write in his August 2004 newsletter …

“If some Church leaders are unwilling to
stand for God's truth, God's people must stand
without them. It is never easy being a Nathan
the prophet, [or] a St. Francis of Assisi … and
yet sometimes [God calls us to] tell leaders
they're wrong. How many more million babies
must die before we courageously risk
all in battling this mortal sin?”

The time is now for us to arise, to pray, to give, and as Dr. Wilson said, “courageously risk all in battling this mortal sin” of abortion. But we must enter this next chapter of truth-speaking and aggressively peaceful advocacy with God’s WORD as our foundation, with the Spirit of Christ as our guide, and with our lives, our purposes, and our resources united with one another as we labor within the church, within the government, and within our culture … doing the work of speaking up and standing-in-the-gap for the Pre-Born.

Mother Teresa was right when she said that …

"The greatest destroyer of love and
peace is abortion, which is war against
the child … Any country that accepts
abortion is not teaching its people to
love, but to use any violence to get
what they want."

As we leave this place today, I invite us to let the words the Apostle Paul wrote to the followers of Christ living in Galatia to both ground us and guide us … and to be our encouragement and our equipping … Here is a paraphrase of Paul’s words …

GALATIANS 6:9 … Friends let's not allow our fatigue from doing what Christ has called us to … get us off track from being who we’re called to be, or slow us down from doing what we’re called to do. Because in the end, if we stay the course, if we don't give up or throw in our hand … at just the right time [according to how God keeps time], we will see the big picture of what God is up to, what God has invited us to partner with Him in – and the harvest will be astounding. (a paraphrase)

In ACTS 17:6 … the early followers of Jesus Christ were described as “the ones who were turning the world upside down.” And in ACTS 13:36, King David was described as a man “who served the purposes of God in his own generation.” Friends, may these be the words spoken of us today and in the days, weeks, months, and years to come … when describing our commitment to Pro-Life issues, and the methods we employ …

As you and I “serve the purposes of God in our generation” … in our culture, in our state, in our towns, in our churches, in our nation, in the world, and in the relationships we have with those God brings across our path, may God use us to bring Light into darkness, to bring healing into brokenness, and to bring God’s gift of reconciliation into that which has been torn asunder. And may we be known as those who are “turning the world upside down” for the sake of the Kingdom of God and God’s purposes. Godspeed.



06 January 2008


There are two natures inside of all of us. One is pulling us toward SIN and SELF and is called our “flesh” or “sin nature” in The New Testament. And the other one is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit after we come into a relationship with Jesus Christ ... and in The New Testament it's called our “spirit” ... and it is pulling us toward HOLINESS and THE THINGS OF GOD.

There’s a famous old Cherokee story that illustrates this reality in a way we can all understand. Here’s how one woman wrote this story down …

When I was growing up in Oklahoma, one of my
closest friends, a girl named Billie, attended a
Cherokee Baptist Church.

Occasionally Billie and her family would take me
to church with them on Sunday mornings. The
services were in the Cherokee language, which I
didn’t understand, but Bible studies and Sunday
school classes were taught in English.

I remember being very impressed by a simple
parable told by the Sunday school teacher, an
elderly Cherokee man.

In the parable a young Cherokee man is brought
before the tribal elders, who are concerned about
his aggressive tendencies. One of the elders takes
the young man aside and tells him that his anger
is understandable, since all humans have two wolves
within them.

One wolf is good and peaceable, and the other is evil
and angry. And since one wolf will never completely
destroy the other one, they’re in constant battle
with one another.

The young man asks the elder “But in the end, which
wolf will win?”

And the elder replied, “That’s simple. The one you
feed the most.”

Our SIN NATURE and our SPIRIT – two wolves inside of us. Our SPIRIT is good and peaceable … and our SIN NATURE is evil and angry. Our SPIRIT is pulling us toward the things of God. And our SIN NATURE is pulling us toward the things of the world. And at the end of our lives, AND day-by-day, the wolf that will win the battle is the one we feed the most.

Focus on the things of this world, let the values of our culture shape your thinking, your priorities, your relationships, and your view of yourself and others … and you’ll be feeding the “SIN NATURE” wolf. And you’ll find yourself drifting further and further away from God, further and further away from people who are pursuing God, and further and further away from the values of the Kingdom of God.

But focus on the things of God, get into God’s WORD, spend time with people whose hearts and minds are heading in the same direction, pursue Christian spiritual disciplines, and you’ll be feeding your “SPIRIT” … and you’ll find your doubts, not just fading away, but being worked through with and much of the time resolved.

Because as we take on the character of Jesus Christ, God brings clarity, focus, and resolve … and the “measure of faith” Paul talks about in ROMANS 12:3 … that all followers of Jesus Christ are given by God when they first come into relationship with Him, will begin to grow, deepen, mature and take root in our hearts and minds.

There are two wolves inside of every one of us. Two natures competing for our attention and our allegiance. Which wolf will win this epic struggle? It's simple. The one we feed the most. Godspeed.