Walking Sermons


And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

Puritan Richard Sibbes said, “Godly friends are walking sermons.” I think that’s what the preacher of Hebrews is getting at. We all need encouragement. We all need to be stirred up to love and good works. And that’s why godly friends can be walking sermons- because the reality is that we’re all sick in some way. We’re all selfish and struggle with many sins, so we need encouragement and stirring. The church is, after all, a hospital. Richard Sibbes said that too-

“The Holy Ghost is content to dwell in smoky, offensive souls…The church of Christ is a common hospital, wherein all are in some measure sick of some spiritual disease or other…”

The Holy Spirit is pleased to dwell in sinners like us because that’s all that there are! We are all smoky, offensive souls when compared the glory of God, but that doesn’t stop God from dwelling inside us individually and corporately. We are a common hospital where at any moment we are all in some measure sick of some spiritual disease. And that’s why meeting together for mutual encouragement is so important. We need to be pointed to Jesus all the time. He alone is the cure for our sin-sick souls.

So look around. There are hurting people sitting in front of you at church. And behind you. And next to you. And there are hurting people filling up their coffee cups before and after the service. So be intentional anytime we gather as a church. Look for someone to encourage. And don’t be surprised if someone stirs you up too. Let’s be a church that places not just a high value on preached sermons, but also on “walking sermons.”

– Benji


The Story Carries Us


For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

What a wonderful promise we have here!

At the time that Paul was writing Romans there was no official New Testament canon, so Paul is talking about the Old Testament in this verse. He’s telling the Roman Christians that all that was written down in the Old Testament was written for our instruction, so that we would be able to endure, be encouraged, and have hope. That’s a wonderful Gospel promise! That’s a wonderful Gospel promise that’s found in a portion of God’s word that records thousands of failures by God’s people!

Imagine that: The stories of the failures of God’s people in the Old Testament are supposed to encourage us and help us to endure and give us hope! That seems a little strange to me. But then I remember that the story is not about Abraham or Moses or David. It’s not even about us. It’s about God. It’s His story. And Michael Williams explains that in his book Far As the Curse is Found: The Covenant Story of Redemption

Were the patriarchs faithful to Yahweh? Often, no. But God was faithful, and that in the end is the story of Genesis. What Moses is teaching Israel in the book of beginnings is that the patriarchs are not the heroes of the story of Israel. Ultimately, the story is not about them. The patriarchs do not carry the story. Rather, the story carries them. The drama keeps coming back around to Yahweh, and to his faithfulness in spite of the faithlessness of his covenant partner. The divine purpose cannot be defeated by sin, even the sin of the covenant vassal. (p.131)

The story is not about you. It’s not about me. It’s about Jesus. And His story carries us. We do not carry the story. The drama of our lives always comes back around to Jesus. And even our sins and failures cannot thwart His plan! Even the sins of God’s people cannot stop Jesus! That ought to be enough to encourage you to endure all of your failures and have hope.

Carried by His story,




Sometimes I doubt God’s love. I know that sounds strange, especially because I am a pastor. But, in case you didn’t know, pastors struggle to believe just like every other sinner in the world. So, yes, I doubt God’s love often. And, yes, I am that fickle. But I have a friend who is helping me to see the glories of Jesus and to believe God’s outrageous love for sinners like me.

In his book “The Glory of Christ” John Owen lists a few questions you can ask yourself if you are doubting God’s love. Read so that you may “walk in the paradise of God and enjoy the sweet perfume of his mediatorial love”-

All who believe that Christ is God value his love and so are never happy with vague ideas of his love as mediator. To have clear, distinct ideas of Christ’s love, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Whose love is it? It is the love of the divine person of the Son of God who laid down his life for us (1 John 3:16).

2. How did this love of the Son of God show itself? It showed itself in the divine nature by eternal acts of wisdom, goodness and grace. And in the human nature it revealed itself by deeds of pity and compassion, shown by his works and his sufferings for us (Eph. 3:19, Heb. 2:14-15, Rev. 1:5).

3. Did we deserve Christ’s love? No, we deserved wrath, not love. This thought should be enough to humble you and bring you into the best attitude of mind to meditate on the glory of Christ’s love as mediator.

4. What did the love of God procure for us? It procured our eternal salvation and our enjoyment of God forever.

With such clear ideas of the love of Christ, and by worship, you may walk in the paradise of God and enjoy the sweet perfume of his mediatorial love (Song of Sol. 2:2-4).

Finally, do not be content to have right ideas of the love of Christ in your mind unless you have a gracious taste of it in your heart. You may taste that the Lord is gracious, that is, you may experience for yourself his grace in your heart. If you do not actually experience the love of Christ in your heart, you will not retain the idea of it in your mind.

Christ is the meat, the bread, the food provided by God for your soul. And there is no higher spiritual nourishment in Christ that his mediatory love, and this you should always desire. In his love, Christ is glorious. No creatures, angels or men could have the least idea of it before it was revealed by Christ. And after it was seen in this world, it is still absolutely incomprehensible.

God Loves You Where You Are


Working on a sermon and was reminded of this gem of a quote by Jack Miller.

“God loves you where you are, not where you have been pretending to be… The last thing we want to admit is that we are weak, foolish, and sinful. But we are tense in our imagined righteousness. What we really need is just to face the truth about ourselves. When we do that, our lives have a special appeal to God and to unbelievers. God loves to hear a person cry out in heartbroken honesty, ‘Lord, I am nothing but a poor sinner. Send help quickly or I’ll die!’” {Repentance: A Daring Call to Real Surrender, p.86-87}

So glad that Jesus loves me where I am and not where I’m pretending to be. Confession: I pretend a lot. I can “do fake” real good. I can “play Christian” very well. And the One who sees through my shams loves me where I’m at. File that under “GOSPEL GOODNESS.”

In the Serious Apprehension of the Gospel

I’m currently reading Christian Love by Hugh Binning (1627-53), one of the Puritans. His story is fascinating. He graduated from the College of Glasgow in 1646 at the age of 19 and was shortly thereafter named the chair of Philosophy at the college. He was ordained in 1650 and pastored a church for 3 years before his death at age 26. During this time Binning preached a series of 40 sermons from Romans 8:1-15 called “The Sinner’s Sanctuary.” At the age of 26, I don’t think I was qualified or capable of preaching 40 sermons from Romans 8:1-15! Three of these sermons are included at the end of Christian Love.

In “Sermon 37” (I love the title!) Binning explains how constant Gospel rehearsal provides the rest that we need when our hearts condemn us:

Therefore to the end that you whose souls are once pacified by the blood of Christ, and composed by his word of promise, may so enjoy that constant rest and tranquility as not to be enthralled again to your old fears and terrors, I would advise to you…

1. That ye would be much in the study of that allowance which the promises of Christ afford. Be much in the serious apprehension of the gospel, and certainly your doubts and fears would vanish at one stroke of such a rooted and established meditation. Think what you are called to, not to fear again, but to love rather, and honor him as Father.

Be much in the serious apprehension of the Gospel, my friends. Think about it. Read about it. Talk about it. Blog about it. Tweet about it. Keep dwelling on God’s amazing love for sinners. There’s nothing more rewarding and beneficial to a Christian. I promise.


Put My Tears In Your Bottle

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Psalm 56:8

I know that the holidays can be tough for many people. We miss loved ones, family members, friends, etc. As if life wasn’t hard enough in this fallen world, the holidays come along and seem to highlight this. So let me encourage you today (and I’m really just encouraging myself).

God sees and knows all of your pain, heartache, sadness, tears, etc. He’s seen you go through a whole box of Kleenex. He’s seen you toss and turn in your bed. He sees all of that and takes note. Psalm 56:8 is telling us just how much our Father cares for us. Think about it: God knows every late night bed tossing that has occurred in your life. He has collected every tear that you have shed. He has written down all of your pain and sadness in a book.

I hope you cling to the God of Psalm 56:8 this Christmas season. I hope you truly believe that God has kept every tear of yours in a bottle. I hope you truly believe that God has kept a journal of all of your sorrows. What a caring, kind, gracious Father we have. Read this verse, meditate on this verse, memorize this verse until it gets down into the nooks and crannies of your heart and you realize just how much God loves and cares for you.


When Grace Doesn’t Strike Down, But Lets People Scarf Down

I just had to post this today based on yesterday’s sermon and based on something that happened to me yesterday. My sermon was all about giving grace to those who don’t deserve it. So after preaching 3x, I came home exhausted, only to discover that one of my kids had broken one of my cherished African art pieces. I bought this very cool woodwork 20 years ago in Ghana, West Africa. It was made of one piece of wood but was tangled together in a very unique way. And yesterday one of my kids got angry at his brother and threw it at him. And this is what I came home to…


By God’s grace I did not flip out on my son, I just told him that I forgive him. Very simple: “I forgive you, son.” And then I woke up this morning to find, in his bed, that he had drawn a picture of it to try and make up for it…


This reminded me of an incident in the Old Testament where grace also won the day.

As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, “O LORD, open the eyes of these men, that they may see.” So the LORD opened their eyes and they saw, and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. As soon as the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, “My father, shall I strike them down? Shall I strike them down?” He answered, “You shall not strike them down. Would you strike down those whom you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” So he prepared for them a great feast, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the Syrians did not come again on raids into the land of Israel. 2 Kings 6:20-23

Some passages in God’s word have made “the Big Time.” By that I mean they are the more “famous” passages that many Christians know, that preachers preach more regularly on, that make it into children’s Bibles, etc. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. But there are others that sometimes get “lost” due to the more famous stories. 2 Kings 6 is like that. It contains the well-known story of the floating axe-head (2 Kings 6:1-7) and the “unseen” horses and chariots of fire that were Elisha’s source of comfort and strength in the face of a Syrian army that wanted him dead (2 Kings 6:8-19).

But what follows these 2 events often gets overlooked. On the surface, verses 20-23 do not seem too exciting when compared with the previous narratives. Elisha had just caused an iron axe-head to float, then he followed that by asking Yahweh to open his servant’s eyes to see into the spiritual world, and then he asked Yahweh to strike the Syrian army with blindness because they wanted him dead. Pretty exciting stuff! And then Elisha has a BBQ for said Syrian army. Not so exciting. Or is it?

Elisha led the blind Syrian army to Samaria and took them behind enemy lines. He prayed that the Lord would open their eyes and “Voilà!” they could see again after a ten-mile trek. There they were; face to face with their enemy. Then the king of Israel asks Elisha if he should strike the Syrian army down with the sword. You expect that to happen at this point in the narrative. But Elisha responds that they should not be killed but rather be served some BBQ. What gives, Elisha? These people want your head on a platter and you want to serve them a great meal on a platter? What happened to you, Elisha?

Grace. That’s what happened; that’s what we see working here. Rather than give these wicked Syrian soldiers a taste of their own medicine, Elisha gives them a taste of some good ole fashioned Israeli cuisine. The Syrians feasted on bread and water (and I’m sure many other delicacies because the author describes it as a “great feast”) but what they really ate that day was grace. Grace has a way of lighting up every taste bud in your heart. That’s why the Syrians at least delayed their future battles with Israel (see verses 23 and 24). They were overwhelmed by the generosity of Elisha and the city of Samaria. The Syrian soldiers feasted on grace; they did not get what they deserved.

That’s how grace works. That’s how grace has always worked. Whether you’re behind enemy lines and enjoying a BBQ in the ancient Near East or messing up your life on the coast of California. Grace is there. We see grace most clearly in the Gospel. God does not give us what we deserve because of Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection.

I don’t know about you, but I love to feast on grace. I love to stuff myself with grace. I love the Gospel. But so many times I see myself acting like the king of Israel and wanting to “give people the sword” rather than give them grace. So many times I would rather strike people down with the sword instead of letting them scarf down on grace, even when they mess up my Chipotle order- especially when they break a cherished African wood piece. In these moments, I need to re-learn the Gospel from Elisha. He said, “Put the sword down. Let our enemies scarf down… on grace.”

When others wrong you, irritate you, offend you, hurt you, and get under your skin, don’t seek revenge. Try dispensing grace. Forgive as you have been forgiven (Colossians 3:13). My tendency is to rehearse over and over (with amazing accuracy!) the offense that I have suffered. Yet I struggle to rehearse (with amazing accuracy) the Gospel. Oh, that we would be people that rehearsed the Gospel and not grievances! Oh, that we would be a church that put the sword down and let others scarf down on grace!

Let the Gospel promise found in Proverbs motivate you to dispense grace today:

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22

If you dispense grace, there is a reward. If you dispense grace, the Gospel goes on display. If you dispense grace, God gets glory big time because the focus shifts away from you and your pity-party and your hurts and your self-absorbed mindset and your desire to seek revenge and it shifts to Jesus, which is where it belongs.

The church where I serve as a pastor is trying to take our first name seriously: Grace. We’re learning to forgive because we have been forgiven. We’re learning to dispense grace.

Put the sword down. Let people scarf down on God’s grace.