Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Luke 10:2 is an oft quoted passage of Scripture used to encourage people to go to the mission field because there are too few workers and the fields are ripe and bursting for harvest...
Unfortunately, I think the emphasis is misplaced in the context of this verse. We ABSOLUTELY should consider our place in GOING... but I'll come back to that in a minute...
The challenge Jesus is giving is to prayer. "Pray to the Lord of the harvest..." Not just pray to the "great farmer" but to the one who rules over the entire harvest... from seed to fruit and everything in between! Can we ask and Trust that God will raise up those who will fulfill His purposes in specific times and places?! YES!
But... Too often we pray a cursory prayer and then get to work making connections and trying to mobilize people for the task at hand. Don't get me wrong, we need to network and ask challenging questions to people, encourage them to step out of their comfort and consider God's calling to those who need Jesus... but the emphasis here in Luke 10 is prayer and asking God to raise up workers for HIS harvest.
Would you join me in prayer for a team (that God will raise up) for Puebla Mexico March 12-23 2009? Over the next week I am committing to praying for this team that God would raise up those He would choose to fit together on this team for this work.
Oh... and about the challenge that you and I should always consider to go... remember this... you or someone you know MAY be part of the answer to the prayer you pray!
When in doubt... go to the wall!
For more information about the team going to Puebla Mexico or to download an application you can visit Bethel's Outreach Website HERE (click on "go teams")
Monday, November 24, 2008
"Every good deed we do in dependence on God does just the opposite of paying Him back; it puts us ever deeper in debt to His grace." - John Piper
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
There are two answers to that:
The first is that I haven't been giving myself the time to write my own thoughts in response to what I am learning, what the Lord is showing me, the conclusions to which I am coming...
The second is that in my journey I am finding these choice nuggets of teaching and ideas and Truth that I seem to desperately need and so, instead of just sitting on this or that and thinking to myself, "that is a nice thought..." I put it here as both a reminder to me to not allow myself to get "too busy" to reflect on what the Lord is teaching me AND I think these things can be helpful to my fellow brothers and sisters on the journey too!
With all that... A quote from C.S. Lewis from "Mere Christianity" that gets to the root of any sin issue. Not to minimize the fleshly sins... as terrible as they are... but seem to be symptoms of deeper spiritual realities that my view of God is very low...
"The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting; the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical seft is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither." (-C.S. Lewis - "Mere Christianity" - pp. 94-95)
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Mark Driscoll posted this blog yesterday but I believe its content is JUST as pertinent today (one day after our national election) as it was yesterday.
I would love your thoughts.
In God We Do Not Trust
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
A good quote from Charles Spurgeon:
"Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom." Charles Spurgeon
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I DO hope to mean it as a self-minimizing-God-exalting-type question/statement.
A pastor and friend of mine preaching this past weekend referenced a part of 1 Corinthians and, although I have read and even heartily considered this passage in my walk with Christ in the past, it hit me in the head like a 2x4.
"What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. "
Now... I can take that too far and, by believing that "i am nothing", discount the work of God in my life and HIS call to love Him and serve others to bring Honor to Jesus... and thus kinda slap Creator God in the face for HIS handiwork.
But far too often... I am on the other side of that playground teeter-totter when I fail to remember that in all our striving for good works (and strive we MUST)... GOD is the Author AND Perfector. How do we strike that balance?
Strive for faithfulness. Paul tells us in Galations that it is a "Fruit of the Spirit." A work of God in the hearts of those who know Him and follow Him. I am not called to make fruit (unless of course you want to go back to God's command to Adam and Even in Eden... but that is another post and another topic) but God's Word often calls me to faithfulness!
1 Samuel 26:23
3 John 1:3
And where does this faithfulness come from? HIM! (Psalm 57:10; Psalm 89:14)
It is an expression of HIS Character that is a gift to us that we should strive to take hold of it!
My desire today (for me and the 2 other people who read this blog) is that I/we would be faithful in our calling as followers of Christ for His Glory and our Joy... perhaps the bruise from the board on my head will be a good reminder!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
You can check out the book HERE or Kauflin's blog HERE!
Right Relationships (how can I worship God in my relationships with my team, church, and pastor?)
Monday, October 13, 2008
Healthy Tensions (what false dichotomies do we create in corporate worship?)
Thursday, October 9, 2008
The Task (what exactly is a worship leader trying to do?)
Monday, October 6, 2008
He has 4 short intro videos to the different chapters in his book. I have yet to read his book (I hope to soon) but I recently heard him speak at a conference and have watched these video clips and find them fantastically helpful! So... I will post them here over the next few days! I'd love your thoughts!
The Leader(what do I love the most?)
Thursday, October 2, 2008
If we look at Acts through the lens of author’s intent, we are able to see not merely a list of happenings in the formative years of the Church, but rather, a much larger plan for the expansion of that Church and the proclamation of the Truth of Christ Jesus. When we look at Acts in this way, the players in the story become much less the focus and the purpose takes center stage. It is important to mention, however, that the Apostle Paul, who’s strategy will be discussed, was an extremely important player in that plan. As we read in Acts as well as in Paul’s letters, we see elements of a purposeful plan to carry out the task of the expansion of the Gospel and, in turn, the Church. It wasn’t haphazard or random. I contend that his approach was God-directed, and deliberate and can be regarded as useful and there are elements that should be assessed as normative for use in the work of the Church today.
There are a few elements that we see in Paul’s strategy that can be seen as normative for Christians of all times and places, and are therefore normative for us. Whether it is referred to as “the Word” or “The Gospel” or “testifying to the Truth” it is clear that one of Paul’s primary tasks was preaching. We see it in Acts (13:5, 16-41, -15, -31, etc.) and we see it in Ephesians 3:8-10. Paul was prepared to preach to both Jew and Gentile, going first to the ones with which he had a good amount of common ground first. Then, Paul would follow up with any who would listen to what he had to say. The ‘preaching’ component to Paul’s mission was vital and is just as important for the 21st Century church. We have to be just as diligent at communicating the Truth of God’s Word in every sphere of influence and common ground that we have.
Preaching, for Paul, was not an end in itself. It wasn’t enough to just teach someone something about Jesus. Rather, Paul was more interested in disciples; true followers of Jesus. Paul charges Timothy with a pattern of discipleship from one life to another in 2 Timothy 2:2. “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will teach others also.” Paul’s strategy shows that evangelism and discipleship are two sides of the same coin. Paul may not have coined what he was doing either evangelism or discipleship, but the point is, Paul was concerned about growing the individual in the knowledge and understanding of the Gospel that was preached to them so that their lives would exemplify the Truth of the Gospel of Christ and that they would be equipped to continue the work of the ministry, namely, continuing to make disciples. 1 Timothy 3:14-15 is a reminder of “how to behave” and is one example of many exhortations that Paul gives to the followers of Christ in his letters to them. Paul understood that this is a process of growth and is fostered in relationships of Spiritual depth and accountability. Wrapped up in this concept is the idea of leadership training and development which Paul addresses in two ways. One, is the training, evaluation, and appointing of elders for the church and two is the long-distance exhortation that is the continued connection after Paul leaves the church ‘on its own” which will be discussed later. Paul charges Titus (Titus 1:5) with “finishing the work” and appointing elders for the church. The work that Paul started in
The third element of Paul’s strategy that is helpful for the Church to look at today comes right on the heels of the last one, and that is one of exhortation and continued connection with the believers and the churches he was a part of planting. Most of the New Testament is Paul’s exhortation, teaching, and encouragement to the churches he had been a part of establishing. Each letter deals with specific issues or needs for that particular church and is, in some ways, a continued “theological education” for those churches; helping them grow-up in the knowledge of Truth. In Paul’s letter to Titus, Paul charges him to appoint elders (Titus 1:5). In verses 6-9 Paul goes on to teach what an Elder ‘looks like” in terms of personal character. And in Titus 2, Paul encourages Titus to be careful to teach “sound doctrine”, a theme that comes back time and again in Paul’s letters, calling the church to be mindful in obeying the Truth, the Word of God.
Now, I am not suggesting that all of what Paul did, every detail, is normative and therefore applicable for the Church today. I do not suggest we first go into synagogues when entering a town or that we go to city hall and interject our preaching in the middle of a council meeting. We should, however, consider the principles of Paul’s strategy and take a healthy look at how we currently view the role of the Church and/or the individual believer when it comes to discipleship and the expansion of the Church.
First, we have to be Word-focused. If we are solely needs-focused, we will miss the point of life-transformation that comes only through Jesus. Paul said, “I am unashamed of the Gospel” (Romans ) and, as we see in his missionary journeys recorded in Acts, he preached the Word of God with boldness wherever he went. That needs to be a part of our strategy as the 21st century church. Second, we have to be conscious that Paul’s strategy was two-sided: Proclamation of Truth and discipleship through relationship. Our strategies tend to be too much one or the other. We don’t build relationships of trust and accountability for the purpose of growth and personal development like we should. The element of long-term discipleship was core to Paul’s strategy and should be for us. This is where true multiplication happens.
“…but Paul did not baptize uninstructed converts apart from a system of mutual responsibility which ensured their instruction.” (Allen pp.6)Paul made certain that a solid foundation of Truth was laid in the hearts, minds, and lives of the young leaders of the church so the church would continue to multiply and make new disciples. Third, and lastly; because we don’t often think “disciples”, rather than just “converts” we neglect the on-going care that is needed. Now, in this day, I am not suggesting that we are responsible to write long letters of such Theological weight that they should be considered for the cannon, but that we, as the Church, are responsible to be the bearers of the Truth of the Word and to make sure we are doing the work of training up disciples and leaders who are full of the Truth and who can “correctly handle the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). And we need to be resolute in our responsibility to continue to teach and uphold the Truth in the mission of making disciples
Thursday, September 25, 2008
On top of that... there are many Christians who throw around the scripture, "Do not judge, lest you be judged." (Matthew 7) in order to silence criticism or Biblical critique.
Don't get me wrong... I have read far too many bloggers who throw around the word "heretic" far too loosely... which is unfortunate because when it is over-used it strips the word of its power and purpose to call people (especially those who have authority - i.e. pastors, teachers, etc) to accountability to Scripture!
With all that to say, I am willing to risk the repercussions of using strong language when necesasry because I fear there are streams of deceit that are quietly yet swiftly flowing into the ears of Christians who are unwilling or unable to be discerning. (Sometimes the half-truth is more destructive than the full-lie!)
In particular, I have becoming increasingly curious about the shifting theology of a prominent "Evangelical" by the name of Rob Bell. If one is looking through the lens of a fairly-orthodox and general Christian Worldview, one would read his books, listen to his sermons, and watch the NOOMA videos in which he stars, and come out with an overall sense of something relatively Biblical. However, upon further review and disection of some of the theological arguments and positions that he and/or his church are making lead to some very different conclusions.
I want it to be noted that I have never met Rob Bell... I have read/listened to/watched material he has produced and know a great number of my peers who have also... but I have never met him in person. I also want to note that the idea from Matthew 18 about going to your brother first, doesn't apply when speaking of dealing with potentailly false teaching. If the teaching is placed in the public square then the critique can (and probably should) be placed in the public square as well.
My concern is with Bell's theological leanings toward: liberal feminist theology, egalitarianism, rejection of Sola Scriptura, the endorsment of eastern/mystic spirituality, and his bordering on Universalism (that everyone is saved from God's Wrath no matter what).
To illustrate my current frustration... and his bent toward a liberal feminist theology... I point you to a critique of the newly released NOOMA video called "She"
There are links below to part 1 & 2 of a critique which I believe is fair and telling of Bell's use of scripture and his appearance of expertise (in Hebrew for example) so as to manipulate the text to affirm his point.
My goal here is not to be demonstrative, over-zealous, or self-righteous. My goal is to be faithful to the scriptures and make distinctions between Truth and error. I believe this can be done both firmly and in grace. My desire is not to BASH anyone but rather point out error with humility and uphold the Bible as ultimate and final authority on all matters of life and faith (Sola Scriptura)
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
It seems like we just started and now we are home again!
It is wonderful and a bit overwhelming at the same time. This dynamic is different than when we brought Nat home for the first time... I think it is mostly the added complexity to our normal system of life.
Ultimately we are overjoyed and completely blessed.
Here are some photos! Enjoy!
Monday, September 15, 2008
Two things are amazing...
one- this little man is in there just hanging out with little to no idea that his world is about to drastically change!
two- I'm winning at scrabble!
Amy just got an epidural and is feeling pretty good. She is progressing nicely! Go Super-Woman!
anywhoo... Amy is getting an I.V. and we will proceed from there...
p.s. this blog and facebook will be the two places to get fairly up-to-the minute-info on this baby's entrance to the world... so stay tuned!
Friday, September 5, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Now, many good things have been accomplished and, I believe, Jesus has been much honored by many men and women who have acted upon the burdens of their hearts. But is that enough? Just to follow something I am "passionate" about? I think there are two very difficult pitfalls on either side of this way of thinking.
One shortfall is that we have a bunch of passionate people who are saying, "God is leading me..." or "my heart tells me..." and intentionally or unintentionally put words in God's mouth that have little or nothing to do with His leading and calling but are really places of compassion or conviction that, although should be considered and possibly acted upon, do not amount to an overwhelming call of God. In this case we can get off track doing good things and living life AS IF those good things are a substitute or appropriate surrogate for our purpose and calling.
The second pitfall are the huge numbers of Jesus-followers who really don't consider to ask God what He thinks on a particular matter and just decides to approach life and ministry as one applies for a summer job... pick the one you like best and start next Monday! This is why there are so many young men and women in ministry simply because that is what their degree from Bible School says... "ministry." And they, like the people of Israel are wondering for how much longer they will wonder in the desert.
John Newton (author of the hymn Amazing Grace) said this, "None but He who made the world, can make a Minister of the Gospel."
Here is a link to an article by a guy named Albert Mohler on calling:
HAS GOD CALLED YOU?
May you, in joyful submission, listen for the voice of the Master calling you today to His purposes and for His GLORY!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
"For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?"
Today our answers could be numerous...
- pleasure (sexual and otherwise)
- material excesses (i.e. MORE STUFF)
Psalm 103:15-16 "As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more."
We can talk about material excesses but what about general material comforts of life... (health, food, shelter...) Can we offer our souls in exchange for them and still violate what Jesus is telling His listeners?
Esau sold his God-given birthright and blessing as the first-born son of Isaac for a bowl of stew because he was hungry... Jacob played a role in obtaining it underhandedly but Esau sold it! (Gen 25:31-33)
Job's friends and even his own wife encouraged him, because of the terrible tragedies to his family and his own body, to curse God! (Job 2)
It is easy for me to look hard at the excesses and say, "man... I'm glad I'm not wrapped up in that! I am glad I don't need to have all the newest stuff or fastest car, or power or prestige or title..."
And yet, I sometimes live my life AS IF God owes me at least the basics... is it not the same prideful, arrogant, belligerent, entitled heart?
The verse from Mark 8 from the beginning of this post, read in context, by the power of the Holy Spirit brings conviction to my heart and I am grateful for the Lord's kindness that leads to repentance.
Mar 8:34-36 "And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?'"
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I'd like to draw your attention to two blogs. One is my friend and pastor Jim. His blog (Thinking Christianly) takes current issues and approaches them from a Biblical perspective. This particular one references China and its history of pantheism. You can find that one here:
The other is the blog of another friend, Caleb, who is acually posting from a 3rd party blog about praying for the people of China. I was challenged deeply and need to credit those who brought it to my attention so here is a link to the blog from Abraham Piper via Caleb (who has a blog called Thorns)
Abraham Piper via "Thorns" (Caleb D.)
Friday, August 8, 2008
I thought I would post my notes here from last Sunday's message at PRISM. I would love your feedback! Thanks!
“16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17And when they saw him [Jesus] they worshipped him, but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” A few things Jesus IS saying to those who call themselves “Christians”; His followers… and a few things Jesus IS NOT saying in this passage:
A few things Jesus IS saying to those who call themselves “Christians”; His followers… and a few things Jesus IS NOT saying in this passage:
1 – We are called to sow the seeds of the Gospel broadly but not carelessly.
Matthew 13 – Parable of the sower
Some of the seed falls on the road, some on hard ground, some among weeds. But the threat of some of the seed falling in bad places doesn’t keep the sower from sowing the seed.
There is a potential pitfall in an approach that throws out a simple Gospel and people might even respond… but they don’t become disciples, not because the message is insufficient but because the sower didn’t tend the seed that was growing or entrust it to another to help it grow. And we do an injustice to the Gospel and the seedling (new convert) by not doing the job with care.
2 - We are called to a simple Gospel but not a simplistic gospel
1 Tim – “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of which I am the worst.” It is a foolish and wonderful thing that Jesus’ death and resurrection is available to save my soul and bring me into communion with a Perfect and Holy God… But Jesus says, “teaching them to observe/obey everything that I have commanded you.” The depth and breadth of Jesus’ teaching is ESSENTIAL to one who would follow Jesus and become a disciple.
I pray a prayer or fill out a card and I am “IN” without true regard for the fullness of Jesus’ Gospel and words. It is not a free ticket… it is life transformation! Jesus Changes everything.
** a simplistic view of the Gospel feeds inaccurate understanding of salvation. I am a firm believer in the “Preservation of the saints” that means that once someone is truly saved… it is irrevocable! (Romans 8) The main argument is that someone can’t just sign their name on a card and then live life however they want… and I would agree with that statement 100% Salvation is simple in that the Gospel is simple and straightforward, and at the same time Salvation is HUGE because Jesus re-orders EVERYTHING about life.
3 – We are called to make them disciples of Jesus not disciples of anything else
Jesus was the PRIME example of caring for another’s needs (Matthew 9:9-13) But, he saw their true need… (they were sick) and offered the solution… himself; in the midst of meeting their need.
In caring for other’s needs we need to be careful to NOT make people disciples of comfort, or food, or shelter, or clean water, or medical care. To be MOST faithful to the Gospel we need to keep Jesus at the center.
**as a side note we see in Acts and in the history of the Church that the good works of caring for the poor and the helping of widows and orphans follows right behind the proclamation of the Gospel and the beginnings and growth of Christ’s Church as it is planted and as it multiplies.
4 – We are called and sent in the AUTHORITY of the risen and exalted Christ
“it was an unlikely thing that they should persuade people to become the disciples of a crucified Jesus…” but a RISEN Jesus… entirely different!
This is the bookend to the whole commission: He starts with, “All Authority” and ends with, “and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
It might go without saying, but I will say it,; the power of the Gospel, life change, wholeness, redemption is Inextricably bound to the death of Jesus on a cross, bearing our sin and shame and rising victoriously to put a finish to death and hell.
This generation is very friendly with the picture of Jesus in the gospels… the incarnate Jesus who hung out with sinners and prostitutes… and that is a beautiful picture of how to pattern our lives… but it must be in the power and authority of the risen Jesus who, right now, sits exalted in heaven and bears the scars on his hands and feet and will come, as Revelation describes, with fire in his eyes, a sword in his mouth, and a tattoo on his leg that says, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”
We are called offered, by this risen Jesus, this great gospel and to those who receive him, to those who believe in his name, he gives the right to become children of God.”
Monday, July 28, 2008
"Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD,
your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!
For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD?
Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD,
a God greatly to be feared in the council
of the holy ones, and awesome above all
who are around him?
O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are,
O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you?
You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.
You crushed Rahab like a carcass;
you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
The heavens are yours;
the earth also is yours;
the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.
The north and the south, you have created them;
Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.
You have a mighty arm;
strong is your hand, high your right hand.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
Blessed are the people who know the festal shout,
who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face,
who exult in your name all the day
and in your righteousness are exalted."
Monday, July 21, 2008
Now, before you stop reading because of sheer boredom I want to re-direct to a slightly larger perspective. The article is titles "A New American reality: The government as provider"
What is interesting is that I don't really think this is a "NEW" reality for us here in America. For many years now I have noticed a growing trend, both inside and outside of the church, of an un-healthy trust in government and politics to solve our problems (financially, morally, etc)
Now don't get me wrong... I believe, as a follower of Jesus, it is important for me to be involved in the life and operation of my country, and politics, and to be an influence for the sake of Jesus and HIS WAY in the world. That means, wise decisions about how government is run, who is elected from local to national offices who will uphold those Truths and values that are Biblical and upright...
My HOPE however is NOT in the 'greatness' of a nation, or in who sits above me in government or what legislation is passed... my hope is in God... specifically God in Christ Jesus!
Psalm 20:7 says, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God."
Could we have a modern rendering of Psalm 20:7 ... Some trust in politics? or presidents? or congress? (gee I hope not?!)
Yes, have a voice and speak wisdom and hold Truth high in all areas... BUT we must remember that our powerful, merciful, awesome, God IS our provider for ALL THINGS!
Genesis 22:14 "So Abraham called the name of that place, 'The LORD will provide'..." (Jehovah-Jireh)
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Here are few challenging, encouraging, and butt-kicking quotes from Charles Spurgeon on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
"Never lose heart in the power of the gospel. Do not believe that there exists any man, much less any race of men, for whom the gospel is not fitted." - CHS
"Avoid a sugared gospel as you would shun sugar of lead. Seek the gospel which rips up and tears and cuts and wounds and hacks and even kills, for that is the gospel that makes alive again. And when you have found it, give good heed to it. Let it enter into your inmost being. As the rain soaks into the ground, so pray the Lord to let his gospel soak into your soul." - CHS
"Let this be to you the mark of true gospel preaching - where Christ is everything, and the creature is nothing; where it is salvation all of grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit applying to the soul the precious blood of Jesus." - CHS
And my personal favorite of the day:
"The heart of the gospel is redemption, and the essence of redemption is the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ." - CHS
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
"Before the Throne"
Arr. Shane Barnard – “Pages” ©2007
Original Words by: Charitie L. Bancroft, (“Before the Throne of God Above” 1863.)
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great high Priest who's name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hand
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
When satan tempts me to despair
and tells me of the guilt within
upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin
Because a sinless Savior died
my sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
to look on Him and pardon me
Praise the One Risen Son of God.
Behold Him there, the risen Lamb
My perfect spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I AM
The King of Glory and of grace
One in Himself, I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God
Monday, June 30, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
It is the tension of recognizing who I am IN CHRIST and at the same time, fighting to take hold of it! Understanding that I will not reach perfection in this life but strive no less to take hold of Christ. As Paul says, "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own." (Phil. 3:12)
John Piper lays it out like this:
Already: Decisively and Irrevocably Free,
Not Yet: Finally and Perfectly Free
Here are some scriptures to help encourage you with a statement of newness paired with a command to become new.
1. Statement of newness: Romans 6:14, "Sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace."
Command to become new: Romans 6:12, "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body."
2. Statement of newness: Romans 6:18, "Having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness."
Command to become new: Romans 6:19, "Present your members as slaves to righteousness."
3. Statement of newness: Romans 6:6, "Our old self was crucified with Him."
Command to become new: Romans 6:11, "Consider yourselves to be dead to sin."
4. Statement of newness: Colossians 3:9, "You laid aside the old self with its evil practices."
Command to become new: Ephesians 4:22, "Lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit."
5. Statement of newness: Colossians 3:10, "You have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him."
Command to become new: Ephesians 4:24, "Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth."
6. Statement of newness: Galatians 3:27, "All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."
Command to become new: Romans 13:14, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ."
7. Statement of newness: Galatians 5:24, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
Command to become new: Romans 13:14b, "Make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts."
8. Command to become new: 1 Corinthians 5:7a, "Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump [of dough]."
Statement of newness: 1 Corinthians 5:7b, ". . . just as you are in fact unleavened."
Scripture references taken from: http://www.desiringgod.org/resourcelibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2001/1178_Already_Decisively_and_Irrevocably_Free_Not_Yet_Finallyand_Perfectly_Free/
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I think I have been guilty of the same line of thinking... and perhaps "the Church" in America has as well?!
Paul, in Romans 10, is talking about how the people of Israel, God's chosen people, haven't, on the whole, believed in Jesus as God's promised Messiah but how ALL who believe in their hearts and confess with their mouths that Jesus IS who he claimed to be (Savior, Lord, God) would be SAVED! "There is no distinction between Jew and Greek... everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Rom 10:12a, 13)
And then Paul says this, (Romans 10:14-15)
"How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'"
How do we expect people who don't believe and confess Jesus as Lord to act, think, reason, etc.? I think we expect them to reach some level of morality", when in reality, without Christ, there is no basis for morality... and so, without the preaching of the "Good News" people remain lost on the road with few signs.
That isn't to say that people are innocent, Paul ALSO says that we, as humanity are without excuse because God has made himself plain to see, (Romans 1:18-32) BUT it is tells those of us who call ourselves "followers of Jesus" something about OUR role and OUR responsibility.
We should be those who boldly bear and proclaim the Good News to those around us. People need to hear the name of Jesus preached...
Jesus is the good news. I am the bearer of that Good News. Do I allow it to come from my mouth enough? Does it come with conviction AND compassion? Both full of Grace AND full of Truth? Recognizing that there is a destination... there are signs on the road... God can and desires to be known... and my job is to be a faithful sign post.
Preach the Good News and let the Spirit bring fruit!
Monday, June 16, 2008
To which I replied, "Hey, that will PREACH!"
So, at the very least, we'll Blog it!
While driving to the wedding we found it necessary, because of flooded roads, to take a detour from the route we were on. See photo below...
So... we decided to go out of our way about 1/2 mile to a little town and ask for directions around the closed road and a new path to the wedding.
We pulled into this little parking lot and this older gentleman on a riding mower greeted us like the strangers-from-the-north that we were and we asked him for directions. He proceeded to tell us to go "through town to the gas station... I think it's a Cenex... and turn right. And after going West for a while... go North again and that will get you to Viborg."
"Thanks a lot!"
Much like the lack of signs on the roads we were driving, this guy expected us to know how far West to travel, when to turn North, and even where "town" was in relation to where we were at the moment!
Needless to say, it was a Sinclair gas station and we did make it to Viborg in plenty of time for smiles, pictures and a great Celebration at the Wedding... however, since then, two things have been rolling around in the back of my mind:
1 - Often we use things like the 10 commandments as the map of "how to live"... like a job description or map for life and just HOPE we don't deviate off course... 'cause then what? Should we really look at them in that way?
2 - How much to I expect that people should know where to go (in relationship to Jesus, morality, Truth, etc.) when there are few road signs and REALLY what they need is someone who can give them directions.
Romans 10:14-17 has been really challenging on this and I'll un-pack the 2nd question in light of the Romans 10 passage in the coming days.
Right now, my Church here, Bethel, is in the midst of a great series on the 10 commandments (http://www.bethelfc.com/listen.html - starting June 1st) and so perhaps I will take on the 10 Commandments in a couple of weeks and post my thoughts here... but for now, we'll stick with question 2...
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Not in the way you might think. Although I have heard about Jesus my whole life and put my trust in Him as a child... and although I have reaffirmed my commitment to Christ many times as I have been confronted with His kindness that has lead me to repentance... I find today that I still have a heart condition.
My heart is utterly wicked.
Now, I trust in the promise that, "In Christ, [I am] a new creation..." (2 Cor. 5:17) and that in Christ, I have been set free from sin and become a slave to righteousness (Rom. 6:18) I find that I still fight against my flesh to subdue it and make it obedient to Christ.
That is hard.
I have had to stare eye-to-eye with my own selfish heart and pride of late and it just breaks me. But, it has taken that honest look at myself which has made Psalm 63 TRUE from my lips in a way that was just a surface statement only a few days ago.
"O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water."
Because I see the corruption of sinful flesh in my own heart and the wide path of destruction that sin leaves in its path I am called afresh to surrender my heart to Christ that HE might continue the process of SANCTIFICATION in my life.
Hebrews 10:14 really lays it out clear:
"For by a single offering he [Jesus] has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified."
The Work on the Cross applied to me brings about my Salvation, making me a new creation and liberating me from the bonds of sin of which I cannot myself escape... and for that I rejoice!
And then, as a product of Salvation comes the process of sanctification. Now I know that I cannot reach perfection in this life (1 John 1:8) however I hold fast to the promise that God, in Christ, by the Power of the Holy Spirit in my life, is at work to conform me to the image of Christ.
So... my wicked heart is dead AND dying at the same time; and the New Creation is IN place and perfected in God AND being conformed to Christ during this life.
And I have hope.
Monday, June 2, 2008
See... the King of Babylon had taken the people of Israel captive. In fact Jeremiah 27 tells us that the LORD told Jeremiah to tell the people to make yokes for themselves because they WERE going to be delivered into the hands of Babylon as slaves.
Then chapter 28 interrupts what God is saying with a false prophet named Hananiah who said that they would only be in bondage for a little while but that God was going to break the yoke of bondage over them... but it wasn't true. Yes, God was going to break the yoke of slavery and restore the people unto himself... but not on man's clock... only on His own.
So Hananiah got axed by the Lord (jake's paraphrase) and then we come to Jeremiah 29 and he is writing to all those who are in exile and waiting on the Lord to rescue them... that is when Jeremiah writes what we read in chapter 29 verse 11.... God is telling His people, through Jeremiah, "I am doing this... you will be given over to Babylon and it will be for 40 years... this is not a quick fix... but my plans are better than yours. And my ways are higher than your ways and I still love you even though you suffer now in the flesh..."
"... for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope..."
so... it doesn't blindly make us "feel good" but rather it points us, in our insecurity and in our having to stare face-to-face with the unknown, and helps us say, "Yes Lord! I trust You. That Your Glory and Will IS and WILL BE the BEST for me as well... even if I don't see it."
So... Amen! I celebrate the weight and power of the words of Jeremiah and what they mean for me and you that we can be confident in the unknowns of our futures because no matter what it looks like all around me, i can lean heavy on his right hand.... because he has good plans...
Alrighty...now i need lunch!
Friday, May 30, 2008
those that know me know that I think "out loud" all the time. So, perhaps this will be a help to me and amusing (and hopefully challenging as well) to whomever takes a minute or two to chew on my musings here!
We'll start small... enjoy!
"Which religion best fits you?"
I was sent an email with a series of "surveys" that you could fill out to find out what kind of person you are. Funny how magazines, pop-up windows, and email forwards are the first places people go to find out who they are... but I digress...
This particular one was fairly interesting so I decided to walk through the 20 or so questions to see what I could find.
All of the questions were based on my personal preferences... like, what I feel should be the natural response if someone hit me? Should I turn the other cheek? Should I respond "an eye for an eye?" "Never retaliate because violence is never justified..." For each question, the responses were varied like this and looking at each one, you could see the obvious leans toward certian religions beliefs.
However, as I finished up the survey I was reviewing the questions and had a bit of an epiphany of sorts... all these questions are about what I want, like, and prefer and have NOTHING to do with any kind of "higher authority" or some greater source of Truth than just me.
Therein lies the fundamental problem... if there isn't a standard by which everything is compared, what do we have? nothing. G.K. Chesterton said it this way, "if everything is art, then nothing is." The same applies to Truth.
John 8 shows us Jesus making some fantastic claims about Himself and they slapped the preferences of the religious and spiritual right in the face! "I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”
This isn't a preference question like, "do you believe there should be multiple ways to god?" This is a statement that says, "this is how things work... you got a problem with that?"
It points to this... is something True because I believe it? OR Do I believe it because it is True?
Incidentally i never got my results to the survey... i had to sign up for a magazine subscription or become a member of the AARP in order to see results...
for me: I want to follow Jesus.