Sermon Links:  Browse By Book By Topic By Series Search

Below are the articles written by Steven J. Cole, pastor at Flagstaff Christian Fellowship.

Why Are We So Unhappy When We Have So Much?

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .

Frustrated Young WomanAlmost weekly I deal with unhappy people. Some are unhappy in their marriages--their mates are “not fulfilling their needs.” Others are upset with their children, their parents, or their bosses. Many are unhappy with themselves because of failure or problems they can’t seem to overcome.

Why are we Americans so unhappy when we have so much? I don’t mean to belittle the difficult and genuine problems people face. Anyone involved in helping people knows that there are some real horror stories out there.

But as a nation, we enjoy more of the factors that ought to go toward making life happy than any other nation in history: longer average lifespans, good medical care, plenty of food, extra clothing, nice homes, cars, and all the gadgets of American life. So why so many unhappy people?

Dear Mary

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .

Adam-s-Wedding(An open pastoral letter to a young Christian woman considering marriage to an unbeliever)

Dear Mary,

Last Sunday at church your parents told me of your wedding plans. Being in love and looking forward to marriage is an exciting time in life. I can imagine your hopes as you look to the future.

Your parents told me that your fiancé is a considerate, well-mannered gentleman with a promising career ahead of him. Knowing you, I am sure that he must have many fine qualities. I am concerned, however, because your parents also mentioned that he has not trusted Christ as his Savior. You know that I care deeply about you. I’m taking the time to write because I want you to experience God’s fullest blessing in your life.

Warning: Reading This Column Could Change Your Life!

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .

Words-Of-Christ-In-RedWhen I was 18, a friend asked me what I had been reading lately. I replied, “I don’t read anything that isn’t required to pass a course.” He looked me in the eye and shot back, “If you don’t read, you won’t grow spiritually!”

Wham! His words hit me right between the eyes. I asked him for a recommendation, got started and was hooked. In the 34 years since then, nothing has impacted my spiritual life more than the books I have read.

When the apostle Paul was languishing in prison, he wrote poignantly to Timothy, “When you come bring … the books, especially the parchments” (2 Tim. 4:13 ). The British preacher, Charles Spurgeon observed, “Even an apostle must read. He is inspired, yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for 30 years, yet he wants books! He has seen the Lord, yet he wants books! He has had a wider experience than most men, yet he wants books! … He has written the major part of the New Testament, yet he wants books!” I would add, “He is facing imminent execution, yet he wants books!”

Elijah and the Pastors’ Conference

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .

homer simpsons brain(A fictional story about a minister who embraced the modern psychobabble culture and abandoned God's Word.)

As he eased his BMW along the freeway in the crowded morning traffic, Dr. David Shaw reflected on the stunning success of his ministry. Just fifteen years before he had been the pastor of a struggling little church that wasn't growing. And Dave had a nagging feeling that somehow his message wasn't quite what people needed.

Then he had stumbled onto the idea that had made him famous. Although he had never told anyone, he had seen it in a women's magazine while he was waiting to get his hair cut. The author was a successful young woman who had broken free from a restrictive religious upbringing. She had always felt put down as a child. But then a college professor had told her that she saw great potential in her if she would just believe in herself and act with more self-confidence. It had worked wonders for her!

Should Christians Endorse War?

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .

our-soldiers-show-compassionAren't Christians supposed to turn the other cheek? Didn't Jesus say to love your enemies? So how can a Christian endorse war, even if it is against terrorists?

This is a fair question. Let me make it clear that I do not endorse war indiscriminately. Many wars have been wrong. Often there are multiple factors that make it difficult to sort out the moral issues involved.

Christ's Resurrection is the Foundation of Christianity

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .

Tomb-of-JesusIt's fascinating when engineers strategically place explosives and then set them off so that an old skyscraper collapses into a heap of rubble. With the Christian faith, you only have to set the explosives at one point: Blow up the resurrection of Jesus and the whole thing comes tumbling down.

That's what the apostle Paul said. If you can blow up this one thing, you totally destroy Christianity. That foundation is the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Paul said, "If Christ has not been raised, then

Some Thoughts on Consensus Leadership and Decision-making

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .


Consensus leadership refers to the process in a local church by which the elders make decisions by seeking the mind of the Lord, not by “voting their own mind.” The mind of the Lord will be revealed by an uncoerced unanimity among the elders, reached after thorough, biblically-based discussion and prayer. In some decisions, individual elders may not be in full agreement, but they may not have such strong disagreement as to prevent the group from taking action. But if an elder disagrees strongly or has a strong hesitation, either on biblical grounds or based on an inner sense that a decision is not from the Lord, then the rest of the elders should recognize his disagreement or hesitation as a check from the Lord and should withhold action. Then they must work through the matter with further discussion, prayer, and seeking of God’s will through His Word.

The key is corporate sensitivity to the Lord as He reveals His will to fellow elders. The Lord promises, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you.” (Ps. 32:8-9.)

Why God is Not Fair

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .

the-judge-hammer-a-judgeDoesn't it make you mad when something is unfair—especially if you are on the receiving end? Recently I applied for a new health insurance policy. The company accepted me but charged me a higher rate because of my allergy problems.

The application never asked whether I smoked or how much (I've never smoked). They didn't ask if I regularly down a six-pack and then get behind the wheel (I don't drink at all).

What Theology is This?

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .

 right-or-wrong-directionDave Hunt’s Misrepresentation of God and Calvinism

As I read Dave Hunt’s latest book, What Love is This? subtitled, “Calvinism’s Misrepresentation of God,” I felt both profound sadness and righteous anger. I was sad because many unsuspecting and uneducated Christians will believe that Hunt is accurate and thereby miss out on one of the richest spiritual gold mines available, namely, the life and writings of John Calvin and his heirs in the faith. I was angry because Hunt deliberately misrepresents and slanders both Calvin and Calvinism, and in the process grossly misrepresents God Himself. I know that his misrepresentation is deliberate because many Calvinists, including myself, wrote repeatedly to Hunt as the book was being written, pointing out his errors and asking him to stop misrepresenting what we believe. But sadly, he stubbornly ignored our corrections and went full steam ahead.

A Review of Debating Calvinism (Multnomah Publishers, 2004), by Dave Hunt & James White

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .

debateSomeone gave me a coffee mug for Christmas that has a picture of John Calvin and a quote from the great Reformer: “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.”

Please allow me to bark! James White does an admirable job of defending the truth in his part of Debating Calvinism, but Dave Hunt throws out so many errors in his sections that White can only pick the most flagrant ones to respond to.

John Calvin—the Man and His Preaching

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .

John-CalvinThe Life and Times of John Calvin

In my spiritual life, the men who have helped me the most possess two qualities: solid biblical scholarship and a fervent heart of devotion for God. Some are impressive Bible scholars, but they are like spiritual dry toast. These men could look at a picture of a beautiful mountain scene and criticize the technical skill of the photographer, while missing the dramatic beauty of the picture. To use another analogy, they are like builders who spend all their time on the foundation or looking at detailed blueprints, but they never get the whole thing built so that they can stand back and enjoy its beauty and function.

On the other hand, there are those who are fervent in their love for Jesus, but their doctrine is so shallow that you’re not sure if they know much at all about who Jesus really is.

Overview of John Bunyan's Life

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .

John-BunyanJohn Bunyan lived from 1628-1688 in or near Bedford, England (north of London). He is most famous for his allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress, which Spurgeon read over every year. He authored 59 books, including his story of his own conversion, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. He spent 12 years in prison because he was not a member of the established Anglican Church, and he refused to stop preaching without the required license.

Bunyan was born into a poor family and was not highly educated. He served for a brief time in Cromwell’s army and then worked in his father’s trade as a tinker, a repairer of pots and pans. As a young man, an ungodly woman heard him cursing and scolded him that he was the most ungodly fellow she had ever heard and that he would spoil all the youth in town if they came into his company. Her rebuke made a more indelible impression on him than all of the sermons that he had heard up to that point. God used this unlikely woman’s rebuke as a seed that eventually led this young, foul-mouthed boy to bitter repentance.

Spending the Days of Your Life

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .

mirror3What if Uncle Sam issued a sum of money to each citizen at birth? You would know the average national allotment, but not how much you had been given. It could be average, above average, or below average. You don't know. But what you're issued is all you get. You can't earn any more. When you run out, you're out! And you don't know when your allotment runs out until that moment! I'll bet you would spend your money carefully!

The Real Shock in the Presidential Scandal

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .

Bill-Clinton-weddingArizona Daily Sun, October 9, 1998

The real shock for me in the current presidential scandal is not the President’s behavior, as bad as that is. The real shock is the public reaction to the scandal. The Arizona Daily Sun recently ran the responses of a random sample of Flagstaff residents. One 27-year-old woman said, “I think it’s much to do with nothing. He gets (oral sex) in the Oval Office—so what? I don’t understand the uproar. Why is everyone making such a big deal out of someone’s sex life? I don’t care who Clinton had sex with.”

A retired U.S. District Court judge basically concurred and added that his friends abroad cannot believe that America is willing to destroy its president because of an extramarital affair, especially when the country “is doing so well economically.” A recent National Public Radio report echoed the judge’s sentiments. It said that people in France don’t understand why are Americans so upset over a little adultery. That country used government funds to support former President Mitterand’s mistress and her child by him.

How John Calvin Led Me to Repent Of Christian Psychology

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .

Human-Dementia-ProblemsOn March 24, 1974, the day after our wedding, my wife, Marla, and I rented a rowboat at Lake Arrowhead, California. Being a cheapskate, my intention was to rent the boat for only one hour. I planned to row out into the lake for about 20 minutes, sit and bask in the presence of my bride for about 20 minutes, and row back in time to avoid the charge for the second hour.

When I got to the point where I planned to sit for 20 minutes, I lined myself up with two separate points on shore to make sure I wasn’t drifting too far from my spot. Every so often, I rowed back to where I thought the two points lined up. But when it was time for the 20-minute row back to the rental place, I was in for a surprise. I discovered that in spite of my precautions, we had drifted much farther out into the lake than I had thought. To get us back to shore in time, I had to row like an Olympic crew member!

What American Families Need Most

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .

Portrait-of-Happy-Black-FamilyNausea, grief, anger, fear—these were some of my feelings a few weeks ago when I heard about yet another student who took a gun to school and opened fire. I fear because I’m a parent: What if it happens at my son’s school? What can we do to halt this frightening trend?

Obviously the problem is linked to the overall moral decay of our society. Kids who get no moral training or example at home are exposed to filth and violence on television, in movies, and in rock music. Most kids have easy access to the Internet, where over 300 new pornographic sites are added every day. Garbage in, garbage out. Coupled with this is the frustrating leniency of our judicial system that often treats violent criminals as if they were the victims.

Tolerance: The Chief American Virtue

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .

toleranceI once served on a jury for a drunk driving case in California. The defendant, a woman in her early twenties, was driving with a blood alcohol level measuring .20. At that time, the law stated that .10 and over was too drunk to drive. The judge gave us explicit instructions. We were to set aside our personal opinions about drinking. We were not to base our decision on whether we liked the young woman or not. We were to decide, "Did this woman violate the state law that prohibits driving when your blood alcohol level is .10 or higher?" Duh!

Companions by Covenant

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .

Caring For HusbandWhen I was in seminary, I knew a man who married a woman he did not know. He had met her once and did not find anything objectionable. Since his parents and her parents had arranged the marriage, he agreed to it. In India, where this couple was from, that’s the way it’s often done. Before you knock their system, think about the results of ours! A quarter of a century later, they’re still happily married, by the way.

In our system, most marriages, even Christian ones, are built on a foundation of romantic love and strong sexual attraction (and often involvement). All too often, after a few months or years with all the pressures of daily life, the romance has long gone, sex is infrequent and not too exciting, and other problems have escalated. About then someone new comes along who seems romantically interesting and sexy. So the marriage dissolves and the partners try again with someone else. The missing or weak element in this system is lifelong covenant commitment.

What Christmas Has To Do With Hell

Written by Pastor Steve Cole on .

christmass-and-hellA florist got the messages mixed up on the orders he sent out. A woman received flowers sent by her husband who was at a business meeting in Florida. She was puzzled to read on the card, "My deepest sympathy."

But she was not nearly as surprised as the woman whose husband had just passed away. Her card read, "Hotter here than I expected. Wish you were here, too!"