Monday, April 30, 2012

How Firm a Foundation

Listen and Purchase HERE.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said—
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not harm thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The day we celebrate and remember the birth of Penelope Page (in other words: HAPPY BIRTHDAY SISSY!!)

Today my baby girl turns 2 years old.  I am so thankful for her.  What a beautiful daughter I have been given to raise, love, cherish, nurture, and disciple. 

I pray often that my little girl would grow up to be a wall and not a door.

Let me explain:

Song of Solomon 8:9-10

9 If she is a wall,
we will build on her a battlement of silver,
but if she is a door,
we will enclose her with boards of cedar.


10 I was a wall,
and my breasts were like towers;
then I was in his eyes
as one who finds peace.

I will be at peace knowing you follow Jesus and stand firm as a wall.  May you allow me the privilege of being your protector and pastor until by the grace and will of God He should reveal a man worthy to pursue, woo, and win your heart and hand.  Above all else, may you worship God and if you should marry, may it be to a man who loves Jesus more than you, but you a close second.

Lil' Sissy.  May you be a wall and full of integrity as you follow and worship Jesus.  I love you so much.  You bring your daddy such joy.  I am so thankful that God made you with such personality and joy and the desire to wear boots with dresses :)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Childlike v. Childish

1 Corinthians 14:20

20 Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.

Jesus calls us to be more like children. Paul tells us to me more like adults. Are Jesus and Paul in conflict?

No. Jesus and Paul are answering different questions and addressing different ideas.

Jesus is stating that we need to have faith the way a child has faith. A child believes their authority for the authority's sake. Children assume the information they are being taught is true and beneficial and a worthy way of viewing the world around them. In this life, that can be for better or for worse pending on the authority source in said child's life. Nevertheless, Jesus said our faith must be like that in our devotion and childlike devotion to the Father.

Paul is stating that we need to have faith the way a man wrestles and meditates and owns his convictions through study, prayer, counsel, and conversation. A child does not know much about much. That is ok in many regards as Jesus points out, but not sufficient for articulating and preaching the Sacred and Imperishable Proclamation of Eternal Salvation

In our thinking we are to be mature. In our faith we are to be childlike. With regard to evil we should be as infants; newbies if you will. Not well seasoned veterans with expansive resumes from which to draw points of reference. We should not mull over evil and devise schemes and plans in our hearts that darken and devour our inner man. We should not be experts in sin.

So obey Jesus and Paul and honor God as our Father (the way a toddler does their daddy) and honor your God as our Father (the way a man chooses to surrender everything to Jesus because he has counted the cost and found Jesus alone worthy of his life and thoughts)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thoughts from "Cultures Reconciled"

Listen to the full message HERE.

Tonight as I donated plasma I listened to a sermon by Jerome Gay from the Advance the Church: The Gospel in the New South Conference. I am not sure how I came across this conference. The Tullian sermon I posted about previously was from the same conference. I still have the Driscoll sermon to listen to yet from this same event.

Either way, I am not sure why I clicked on Jerome Gay's message "Cultures Reconciled" to download. I am glad I did however.

Pastor Jerome spoke on contextualizing the Gospel to the people to whom you preach and the dangers of changing the Message to the perceived needs of the different groups to whom you preach. He also mentioned that most of us preach only to a certain type of person and find ourselves completely uncomfortable with people outside that defined "type" of person. He preached from Acts 10 where Peter realizes that God is wanting even the Gentiles included in this community of believers. Jesus confirms this by granting them the Spirit and ears to hear the Gospel.

Pastor Jerome said a few profound statements during the course of his presentation.

He said something to the effect of "we will not see cultures reconciled until our burden eclipses our bias." He spoke of different cultural norms that are offensive and unattractive to outsiders and how we will not preach the Gospel to those with whom we do not relate until our burden for their salvation and the burden for Jesus' glory eclipses our biases.

This is profound. I do not respect people who do not (at least) like or esteem in part Calvinism. I do not like belligerent vegetarians. I do not like being around noisy people. I don't like extremely and unnecessarily combative and confrontational people. I don't like fans of Lebron James. All of these are minor preferences in my life. None of these are so pronounced in that I would swear off being friends with these people. These are just people that I will likely not pursue to be my friends. But that means I'm also very unlikely to pursue them with the Gospel. Until my love for Jesus and His glory and their salvation mean more to me than my bias, I will not pursue them with the Gospel message of Jesus. Their cultural preferences need to be informed by Jesus just as much as my cultural preferences do.

Pastor Jerome said, "We are challenging a culture to rebel against itself." Culture is the product of a sinful people. All peoples have culture and all peoples are sinners. No matter who we preach the Gospel to we are in effect asking them to rebel against their own preferred culture. There is no person in a culture that if Jesus were to reach through His message of salvation would remain exactly the same.

Pastor Jerome also said, "our belief compels our behavior." This is a very succinct way of phrasing this profound observation. It has been said and articulated a myriad of ways, but I liked the pithy way he stated this fact. What we do is not what we believe per se, but what we believe must have some effect on what we do if we really believe it.

Lastly, Pastor Jerome reference some lyrics from a rapper he enjoys named Lecrae from a song called "Send Me" which is based on Isaiah's experience in being selected for service in God's redemptive history.

You can hear that song HERE.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Friends with fists

Psalm 141:5

5 Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;
let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head;
let my head not refuse it.

Proverbs 27:5-6

5 Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Do you have enough people in your life who love you enough to tell you when you are being self-serving, self-absorbed, grumpy, obstinate, arrogant, sinful, prideful, etc....?

If you don't, you don't have any friends. You may have people who like you, who know you only well enough to know your glamour shots, who appease your wrathful repartees by speaking sugar and splenda over you in conversation, but a friend you cannot find.

The Scripture says that our hearts are deceitful above all things. We are prone to believe our motives are pure and our thoughts perfected. We tend to see our cirucmstances as having caused us to be late and the other person walking in simultaneously to be tardy, lazy, and irresponsible. We see our side of the argument and our perceived slights. We do not see the whole story or the world beyond our own interest. Without a good friend to love us enough to speak truth into our microcosms, we are lost in a vacuum of blackened insight and manipulative evil.

Find a friend who will not just be loyal to you, but loyal to Jesus and truth. Loyalty is only a virtue inasmuch as the object of its devotion. Do not insist upon your friend's loyalty to you. You are not worthy of loyalty. Insist on their devotion to Jesus and in that may they be convenantally bound to your growth in faith, hope, and love in Christ. This is loyalty you can rightly call friendship.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thoughts from "Christ Alone pt. 1"

Listen to the full message HERE.
So a while back iTunes gave away a song titled "Exalted One" by Elevation Worship. I listened to the sample and decided to download the song for free. Here is the video for said song HERE.

I was vaguely familiar with Elevation Worship as my church sings the song "Give Me Faith" which my wife and I really enjoy and I have purchased the mp3. Listen to it HERE.

This prompted me to want to hear the pastor of the church where this worship band resides.

I downloaded the sermon entitled "Christ Alone pt. 1" There were plenty available on their podcast, but I figured I wanted to get an idea of where these people were theologically and a sermon titled "Christ Alone" is going to probably articulate most of the vital information I would need.

I am inherently skeptical of new churches and always have my heretic hunter lens on by which I filter new teachers. Until I have a larger body of work through which to grant you the benefit of the doubt, I must try to accumulate information as I listen.

Pastor Steven Furtick is a young man with lots of energy and passion. He gave me reason to listen to more as he clearly articulated the essential Christian doctrines of total depravity, penal substitutionary atonement, and confidence in Christ in this message.

He focused a lot on Romans 8:1-4 in which he focused on condemnation no longer being applied to those who are in Christ Jesus (and only those). He made the clear distinction between those found in Christ and those who are not. He articulated well the truth of the Gospel in that we are sinners saved by grace and the devil uses this fact to remind us of our sinful nature. He (the devil) is not wrong in his assessment of who we are, but he is wrong in failing to acknowledge that in Christ God applies His righteousness to us and while sinners, we are justified before Him.

Style is always a secondary matter and some may or may not dig his vernacular and cultural references. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that a church with an influential worship band also has (seemingly) a solid foundation from which this worship arises.

Granted I reserve the right to retract this seal of affirmation if upon further listening I come across some doctrine being taught that is contrary to the one, true Christ.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thy Mercy, My God

Listen HERE.

Thy mercy, My God, is the theme of my song
The joy of my heart, and boast of my tongue
Thy free grace alone, from the first to the last,
Hath won my affections and bound my soul fast.

Without thy sweet mercy I could not live here,
Sin soon would reduce me to utter despair;
But, through thy free goodness, my spirits revive
And he that first made me, still keeps me alive.
Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart;
Dissolved by thy goodness, I fall to the ground,
And weep to the praise of the mercy I found.
The door of thy mercy stands open all day
To the door and the need who knock by the way;
No sinner shall ever be empty sent back,
Who comes seeking mercy for Jesus' sake.

Thy mercy is Jesus exempts me from hell;
Its glories I'll sing, and its wonders I'll tell;
'Twas Jesus my all, as he hung on the tree,
Who opened the channel of mercy for me.

Great Father of mercies, thy goodness I own,
And the cov'nant love of thy crucified Son;
All praise to the Spirit whose whisper divine,
Seals mercy and pardon and righteousness mine!

Buy it HERE.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Independence Day

My Utmost for His Highest had this to say today:

"We deify independence and wilfulness and call them by the wrong name. What God looks on as obstinate weakness, we call strength."

Their is nothing more honorable or cherished in our culture than the ability to earn favor by one's own merit. It is a childish endeavor learned early. My son and daughter routinely echo the heart of idolatry and self-satisfaction in barking, "Do it self!" In children we see this perhaps as willful, but excusable. In adults, we save our largest applause for the one by whom much has been conquered with the least amount of assistance.

Who is more revered than the one who did it all without your help? Who is more honored than the visionary commited to their perception of "the good."

What we call strength, God calls weakness. It is the weak man who shows up before God demanding his wages. It is the strong man who timidly falls before God asking that in Christ his wages be paid and that perhaps, if only by grace, Jesus' wages be given to him.

We don't like handouts. We pat ourselves on the back for occassionally handing out. We don't like being condescended. We like condescending people above whom we feel we rise.

We are the epitome of needy and yet we call it satisfication. We are the beggar who boasts of charity bestowed.

Where in your heart and mind have you elevated independence above reliance and willfulness above submission? You often need look no further than the resume you present to others in conversation in justifying why they should like you, love you, follow you, believe you, respect you, or receive you.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lessons from Mark 1:1-13

My church began a new series today where we will be going through the book of Mark.

Pastor Jeff taught from verses 1-13 of Chapter 1. He started by sharing the greater (meta) narrative of the Bible as a whole. The greatest stories contain a creation-fall-redemption style narrative as it is a reflection of the greatest story ever told, the actual creation, fall, and redemption of all mankind by God through Jesus Christ.

Pastor Jeff then pointed out the parallels between Mark 1 and Genesis 1. In Genesis 1 you have God, the Spirit, and the Word all present in the creation of everything we know. In Mark 1 you have the Father, the Spirit, and the Son all present at the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.

The inbreaking of the Kingdom of God is the Christ fulfilling the Old Testament and creating the foundation of the New. In our contemporary services, baptism is usually accompanied by a short testimony and a verbal confession of Jesus as LORD. In John's baptism, baptism was accompanied by a confession of sins out in the wilderness by a man covered in camel hair and bug breath. It is worth noting that it cost the early church much more than it often does us in coming to and proclaiming devotion to Jesus and perhaps this is what enabled the Church to endure such harsh persecutions at the hand of Rome with faith in tact.

Pastor Jeff challenged the church to enter into the book of Mark as more than a endeavor to accrue new information about Jesus, but as the challenge presented by Mark to repent and believe in Jesus for your current circumstances and the eternal rest of your soul.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The partial and the perfect

1 Corinthians 13:10

10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

When Jesus returns, those who have followed Him will become finally fully like Him. In this life we are in the process of sanctification, but simultaneously seen now as perfect through Christ's righteousness imputed to our account. We are the perfect being perfected.

One day this will cease to be. When the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. So much of what I love and like about this world is partial. It does not necessarily mean I am wrong for loving and/or liking it, but it does mean that when the true substance that is often manifested in shadow and type appears, I will no longer desire the reflection in the mirror, but the substance giving life to that which I see reflected. Perhaps I said that in a way that is more complicated than it needs to be.

I love music, art, comedy, sports, etc... In this life there may be echoes of God's joy whispered in these (depending on the music, art, joke, or game being played). One day all of these fleeting joys will be consumed by the Author of music, artistry, comedy, and our bodies. There is something in these that reminds me of God and one day I will no longer have to wonder what that is specifically because I will see Him and in Him will find the satisfaction of every godly desire I ever entertained.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Got Meat?

1 Corinthians 3:2

2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready...

My daughter loves milk. She would literally drink herself full of it prior to any meal and gladly pass on the actual meal. My son will often chew meat, but spit it out as he cannot either figure out the texture well enough to swallow it or simply enjoys the flavor of meat and not the actual swallowing of meat.

My children are not ready for meat. They lack the means of chewing it and swallowing it. At some point this will become disconcerting to me. For now it does not, because the expectation for their level of maturity is such that this is considered common.

At a certain point, however, this will be a problem.

Hebrews 5:12-14

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Children are sweet and their immaturity is laughable, forgivable, and expected. As a person survives their infancy and childhood, they are expected to grow in capacity and ability. If they do not, something is "stunted." Their growth has not tracked as per usual. This is problematic and the assumption is that there is a root cause which has created this anomaly.

If you see yourself as one not yet ready for the "meat" of the Gospel, is it because you are a babe in your faith? If you are a babe in your faith, have you been in your faith very long? Are you a fertilized embryo frozen somewhere incapable of growth or are you growing in every way other than this? Are you aging, getting taller, getting wider, getting grayer, getting more information about any number of things other than that which is called Christian maturity?

Christian maturity is not being intellectual. It is not a matter of necessarily "trying harder" per se. It is growing in "powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil" as the verse above states. It is focusing on Jesus and recalling constantly His finished work: His perfect life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection from the dead. It is practicing to keep these thoughts foremost in your heart and mind. The one who can easily recall that for which before God they are thankful in Christ is the one who is mature and ready for the true "meat" of the Word.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Jesus, I Come

Listen HERE.
Out of my bondage sorrow and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus I come.
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of my sickness into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thy-self
Jesus I come to Thee.

Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus I come, Jesus I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of earth's sorrows into Thy balm,
Out of life's storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come, Jesus I come;
Into Thy blessed will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love
Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on the wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come, Jesus I come;
Into the joy and light of Thy home,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Buy it HERE.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lessons from Church: 2/19

The topic de jure was "Doing good deeds."

This was the last in the series of "Letters to Cornerstone" in where the church attempted to address issues they believe Jesus would raise with Cornerstone as a church.

Pastor Troy identified the ditches of freedom and legalism largely adopted by most Christian church-goers. The legalists push that good works assure or earn salvation. The radical free push that faith alone is what saves and therefor what we do has no consequence.

Pastoy Troy then attempted to explain that the Biblical model of faith and works is one in which faith is validated in doing good works. Largely basing his message in the short epistle of Titus where the Apostle Paul mentions on multiple occassions that Christians must be in the business of doing good works.

Pastory Troy ended with the rally cry of the Protestant reformation Ephesians 2:8-10

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Faith, grace, and works are all gifts from God given unto us that we might walk in them. No one will be qualified to boast in any thing on that final day. It is by, through, for, and to Christ alone that we are saved.

As a result of that glorious gift and sacrifice we ought live our lives to glorify God (which will undoubtedly result in many good works) Not simply dabbling in good deeds, but devoting ourselves to them.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Order in the Church

1 Corinthians 12:28

28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.

God has appointed order in the church. Just as men, women, and children are equal in value and worth yet different in role and authority; the body has many parts performing different functions and tasks that are equal in some respects and not in others.

After all, if you don't have a heart, you don't have a living body. If you don't have a brain, you don't have a thinking body. Perhaps a machine could keep your heart pumping and the body's systems on-going, but there would be no profound quotes or books written by said body. However, the one without legs may not be able to walk, but it's thriving more as a living body than one missing its lungs. Is the heart more part of the body than the ear? No. It is more essential? Yes. Without ears you may not hear that car coming and walk into the middle of the street. Without a heart, you aren't going anywhere. Your heart can only keep you alive. It cannot produce another life. Only your reproductive organs can perpetuate the species. Your heart aids your reproductive system in keeping it alive. Your stomach will determine a large number of your decisions and the attitude in which you perform many of your tasks in between meals. Does your heart need to eat? Not the same way your stomach does, but without your stomach eating, your heart would eventually die with the rest of you.

Are we all connected? Yes. Could the body survive more easily the loss of some than others? Yes. God has appointed some things, some people, some gifts, and some talents to be more useful and important in the perpetuation of His church than others.

Apostles, prophets, and teachers take precedent over miracles, healing, tongues, etc... The latter affirm the former, but the former affirm the purpose of the latter.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Splitting hairs and the difference between "we" and "y'all"

1 Corinthians 11:16

16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.

Do you think people were and are inclined now to be contentious about this? Go back and read 1 Corinthians 11:1-15. Is there a contentious spirit stirred in you by it? Is it easy for you to agree with what he is instructing? I know there is some degree of cultural context to be taken into consideration, but nevertheless Paul anticipated push-back on this.

You may have it your way. You just can't be part of us or the other churches of God if you choose to do so.

Ride your own melt. But ride at your own risk. You can put Jesus' name on the door or in the title, but that doesn't force Him to be inside you or your building. Many will claim the name of Jesus, but not be found in Him.

Matthew 7:21-23

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Jesus did not forget these people. He NEVER knew them.

Listen to an amazing sermon by Mark Driscoll on this passage HERE or watch most of it HERE.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lessons from Church: 2/12

Today in our 3rd of 4 sermons regarding issues raised by the church family as those to which Jesus would draw our attentions we focused on "Confronting Sin."

Pastor Jeff drew largely on the text of Galations 6:1-5.

I think one of the primary reasons I fail to address sins face to face with brothers and sisters in Christ is the fear that they would then inquire as to the sins of my life. It is as though most Christians have an unspoken mutually understood agreement that we will not poke around too much in each others lives so that we can all avoid both confronting the sins of others and having them confront the sins of our own hearts.

I am also a coward. I am opinionated and passionate in the privacy of my own thoughts and in the presence of company not directly affected by my thoughts. I am judgmental and critical. I find very few contexts where I am comfortable enough in the strength of the conviction held to open my mouth and voice said concern in a gentle spirit.

Pastor Jeff pointed out that we must confront sin in order to build the body and not also be found guilty of sin in failing to address that to which Christ has called us expose and minister.

If the person fails to repent, Jesus' words in Matthew 18 gives guidance on how to proceed.

(side note: the whole "where 2 or 3 are gathered in My Name" verse at the end of Jesus' diatribe on church discipline is not intended to mean that wherever 2 or 3 Christians are in agreement about anything, He is also in agreement with them on said thing. If that were so, Paul was really on his own when he was deserted by all his friends. Jesus was not with him because there was only one, not the 2 or 3 necessary for Him to be present. Clearly that is ridiculous and not what Jesus intended. Context people! Context!)

Lastly, Pastor Troy mentioned that several years back he was confronted by Pastor Jeff and an Elder at Cornerstone regarding some bitterness and unforgiveness they had observed in his heart through his words and actions. They commented that they were prepared to begin the process of finding a new lead pastor if Pastor Troy did not repent and seek forgiveness in Christ. Pastor Troy was both cut to the quick and hopeful that he had friends who loved Jesus enough to confront him with regard to this. Pastor Troy repented and was restored as the verses indicate is the purpose of the initial confrontation performed by Pastor Jeff and the Church Elder.

It is a blessing to be part of a church that does not see the lead Pastor as being above Jesus. Jesus is the Head Pastor of Cornerstone Church in Ames, IA. Praise God for it!

Monday, April 9, 2012

*SPECIAL* Easter Edition: Low in the Grave He Lay

Listen HERE.

Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior,
waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!


Up from the grave he arose; with a mighty triumph o'er his foes; he arose a victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever, with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch his bed, Jesus my Savior,
vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!


Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior;
he tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!


Sunday, April 8, 2012

*SPECIAL* Easter Edition: Death Could Not Hold Him Down!

1 Corinthians 15:17-19

17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Acts 17:30-31

30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Today we celebrate the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham. The Seed has fulfilled His mission in being laid down into the ground dead so that He may rise to life and produce fruit. Jesus is ALIVE!

God no longer overlooks ignorance. The old has passed away. The new has come. He commands all people everywhere to repent because a day is coming where God will judge the world in His righteousness by the Man He appointed. God has given full assurance of this by raising that Man from the dead.

Rest assured, Jesus is alive and well and is coming back again.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

*SPECIAL* Easter Edition: Knowing the answers and failing the test

Jesus, the hope of our hearts, was murdered yesterday and today we mourn and attempt to hold on to the glimmer of hope we found in His Words when He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19). The following Psalm describes perfectly that dark period between Jesus' death and Jesus' resurrection. If He is not raised, we are doomed! We long for His promises to be made sight. He was the one we had waited for and now He is in a tomb. It all comes down to this:

Was Jesus Who He said He was?

Psalm 130:1-8

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
2 O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?

4 But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.

5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

7 O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
8 And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.

If the LORD were to grade our tests who could pass? It is rhetorical in nature when the Psalmist asks this provactive question. No one. The answer is "no one could stand, pass the test, earn their keep, make the grade, get the blue ribbon." We all fail. We all fall short.

God is gracious and offers forgiveness in Jesus. He does this that He might be feared. Not feared like a horror movie, but feared like the size of the universe. It's awe, inspiration, fear, and elation all wrapped up.

Hope in His Word. He has the resources to redeem you, the power to save you, the mercy to forgive you, and the patience to uphold you. Wait for Him. Imagine the watchmen staked out in the cold of the night. Everything else is asleep. You have nothing but your thoughts and the fear that you may see a light appear in the distance of a foreign army coming to attack. You are cold, tired, desperate, and anxiously awaiting the sun peeking over the horizon. You long for it, yearn for it, desire it, can hardly wait for it. It holds respite in its arrival. It promises freedom, safety, warmth, and rest.

The Psalmist believes that God will fulfill His promise to redeem him from his sin and he waits for the Lord with baited breathe

More than the watchmen for the morning
More than the watchmen for the morning

Friday, April 6, 2012

*SPECIAL* Easter Edition: What's so Good about Friday?

3 things to consider
John 10:17-18

17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

John 16:32-33

32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 19:28-30

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said ( to fulfil the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished”, and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

We could not have killed God without His permission. Think about that. Jesus laid down His life. He is not a tragic figure of history. He came for this very purpose.

In the moment of His deepest despair and fear where brotherhood and encouragement were needed most, Jesus was left on His own and we scattered. Jesus prophesied this to his disciples and told them of their future cowardice and shame.

But Jesus says the most remarkable thing. He tells the disciples that He has told them this very news so that they may have peace. That seems strange to me because it seems like the worst news possible. It's like saying, "I know you are with me now, but when things get difficult you will abandon me and leave me alone." But Jesus said He was not alone. The Father was with Him. If the Father is with you and for you, who can be against you? The world. But who can defeat you? No one.

Jesus has overcome the world! He overcame death, sin, hate, violence, disbelief, abandonment, fear, cowardice, and the betrayal of His own disciples.

On the Cross, Jesus proclaimed, "It is finished!"

I believe Him.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Jesus & Demons

1 Corinthians 10:19-20

19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons.

There is Jesus and then there are demons. That's it! What does that mean? It means that those who worship Allah worship a demon. It means that those who worship Buddha or Vishnu or Krishna or Molech or Baal or Chemosh worship demons. It means that those who create another Jesus (a la Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Word Faith, Oprah, etc...) worship demons.

There is one Jesus and He is God. All other objects of worship are idols who are not imaginery gods, lesser gods, or god at all. They are demons!

There is NO merit in spirituality. There is only merit in Jesus. Being spiritual without being a disciple of the Jesus of the Bible is to be a disciple of demons. You'd be better off not being spiritual.

There is Jesus and then there is everything else. He left us no other option when He said:

John 14:6
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lessons from Church: 2/5

The Letters to Cornerstone Series in which we examine what Jesus would possibly write to us in calling us to greater doctrinal purity, personal application, or endurance landed on the topic of Sharing the Gospel today.

Pastory Troy rightly pointed out that we are natural evangelists for the things in which we delight. No one has to gird us on, equip us, empower us, charge us, or stay on us to preach that which we believe to be the most exciting thing in our lives. We do it on our own, naturally, continually, and persuasively.

If you love the stock market, no one has to tell you to encourage others to delight in the stock market. You love it when it comes up in conversation and you seek ways to bring it up and tie it in to whatever is being discussed.

If you love home decor, no one has to tell you that you should sign up for Country Living, Anthropologie, Better Homes & Gardens, or Martha Stewart Living. You gladly give your money to receive these monthly reminders of that which you adore. No one has to tell you, "if you really love home decor, you would talk about it more often." No, on the contrary, people regularly may say, "Ok, I get it! You love home decor. It's all you ever talk about!"

We often do not worry that our love of a particular Sports team will offend those who do not like our team or cheer for another team. We evangelize and tell everyone the glories of the teams we like best. For example, a Kentucky fan will likely not cower and be ashamed when in the company of others they discover the majority are Louisville fans. All the more likely, the Kentucky fan will rise up and be glad to take upon themself the monicker or outlier.

We know how to do this.

Except when it really matters.

In MOST circumstances we are perfectly comfortable and not the least bit anxious about offending people by proclaiming the joys of that which we find the most exhilirating other than the MOST important issue we hold MOST deeply (life, Jesus, salvation, hell, the Bible, marriage, sin, politics, and death).

We cower away from these for any number of reasons, but cower, nonetheless, we do.

We would like to think of ourselves as those who would help a lost child in a local food market, but we fearfully shy away from lost people at our workplaces. The child at the market is clearly lost and in need of help. We pity them and seek to assist them find their way home. The lost person at work is equally, if not more so, lost and in need of assistance, but we don't want to offend them. I guess it helps that the kid in the grocery store knows they are lost whereas the person at work may need your help to convince them that they are lost before they accept directions on how to get to a home where God reigns.

Pastor Troy finished by going through Romans 6:23 and illustrating the "bridge model" of sharing the Gospel to both share the Gospel with those in attendance and to equip those in attendance who have already been given eyes to see Jesus the resource as an example of how to share the Gospel with the lost in our lives.

Pastor Troy lastly brought up that the Tree of Life makes its first appearance in the earliest chapters of the book of Genesis and does not appear again until the last chapter of the book of Revelation. That Tree's fruit is only eaten by those who worship God through Jesus Christ.

In between the story of the Tree of Life is all redemptive history played out to demonstrate God's love in Jesus Christ in providing a way of reconciliation through the Cross.

Those who do not worship Jesus and accept the substitute of His Cross will not find their way home to God in peace, but will face the terrifying reality of a Holy God and His righteous wrath against those who fall short of His standards with no one to intercede on their behalf.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

In an "election" year I would be remiss if I ignored the "elephant" in the room (ba dum dum tish)

Romans 8:28-30

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Predestined, Called, Justified, and Glorified

Predestined = Chosen before we did anything (good or bad)

Called = The Gospel reached us by His messengers fulfilling their purpose in God’s divine plans

Justified = The blood of Christ atones for our sins and His righteous life provides us justification (or right standing before God)

Glorified = One day we will be honored and glorified as Christ is because God will see us as He sees Him (not because of works, lest any man should boast, but by grace working through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, the Lord)

God’s ways are above our ways and His thoughts above our thoughts. He chooses the worst candidates and calls them His children by conforming them to the image of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. He is not ashamed of the Gospel. He is not ashamed of what He has done. He knew before He chose us what He was getting. It was not because of the value that we possessed, but because of the value God placed in making us His possession.

Monday, April 2, 2012

And Can It Be That I Should Gain..

Listen HERE or HERE.

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?

Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin
and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Purchase HERE. (I enjoy this arrangement of the song)