Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The worst receivers in the world

We receive the Gospel.

But not like NFL receivers. They receive passes from quarterbacks.

Sometimes the ball is thrown well and right on spot, sometimes you have to use your athleticism to catch up to it.

The point is that the Good News of Jesus is that you don't have to be a good receiver, not even a first round pick or run a 4.1 40.

It's like those passes where the Tight End is running and turns around and the ball is just there. The stats will award him a "catch," but the quarterback and the ball did all the work. I suppose that would make the Devil a defensive back attempting to break up the play a la the Parable of the Sower. All this imperfect analogy to say, "God is not recruiting an All-Star Team."

Quite the opposite.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

You are not a great receiver. If you have received anything, it is only because God made it possible for you to catch it.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Brethern, We Have Met To Worship

Listen HERE.

Brethren, we have met to worship and adore the Lord our God;
Will you pray with all your power, while we try to preach the Word?
All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down;
Brethren, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Brethren, see poor sinners round you slumbering on the brink of woe;
Death is coming, hell is moving, can you bear to let them go?
See our fathers and our mothers, and our children sinking down;
Brethren, pray and holy manna will be showered all around.

Sisters, will you join and help us? Moses’ sister aided him;
Will you help the trembling mourners who are struggling hard with sin?
Tell them all about the Savior, tell them that He will be found;
Sisters, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Is there here a trembling jailer, seeking grace, and filled with tears?
Is there here a weeping Mary, pouring forth a flood of tears?
Brethren, join your cries to help them; sisters, let your prayers abound;
Pray, Oh pray that holy manna may be scattered all around.

Let us love our God supremely, let us love each other, too;
Let us love and pray for sinners, till our God makes all things new.
Then He’ll call us home to Heaven, at His table we’ll sit down;
Christ will gird Himself and serve us with sweet manna all around.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The weak and the strong

Romans 15:1

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Do you think you are strong? Insightful? Inspired? Then show it by putting up with the failings of those weaker than you.

It is not easy to put up with the weak. They are a perpetual pain. They are consistently needy and weak and failing.

If you are strong, you ought to bear heavier weights than weak people. They are too weak to deal with their own troubles, let alone yours.

The cross you are chosen to bear may be heavier if you are stronger. And before you start to complain and whine about it:

Stop and Think

If you do whine and complain, you are not strong. Or perhaps as strong as you would like to spend your days thinking. You are weak and others who are stronger than you are being called to bear your failings.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Only God can judge me

Yeah, what up Tupac.

That is true. Only God can judge you.

And He will.

That is the part we take for granted. We say, "only God can judge me," to dismiss the snide remarks of fellow men. It is used as a defuser of missles being launched at you. It is a defensive maneuver. It is true. Only God can judge you. But how many make that statement on the assumption that He won't? Hoping He won't. Not believing He will? Or at the very least assuming if He does judge He will find you better than most.

He won't. Because you aren't. Especially because you think that.

Take heed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

American Idol is worthless

I know this next section of Scripture is long, but it is straightforward and the point is very clear. Please take the time to read it.

Isaiah 44:9-20

9 All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. 10 Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing? 11 Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together.

12 The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint. 13 The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. 14 He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”

18 They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. 19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

Psalm 96:5-6

5For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
6Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Psalm 97:7-9

7 All worshipers of images are put to shame,
who make their boast in worthless idols;
worship him, all you gods!
8 Zion hears and is glad,

and the daughters of Judah rejoice,
because of your judgments, O LORD.
9 For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.


Idols of all kinds are worthless and those who make them become like them. We create them and erect them and ask them to be things they could never become or believe them to be the boasts they could never fulfill. And we suffer for it. We never stop to think that the thing we worship is that of our own invention and not the Inventor of all things: the Inventor of the things we seek to worship, the Inventor of us.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Conscience means "with knowledge"

Romans 14:22-23

22The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Do you have reason to pass judgment on yourself for the things you do and approve of others doing?

Blessed is the one who has no reason to do so.

Have faith in the things you do. If you have reasons and convictions for doing or not doing something which falls into the realm of Christian freedom, abide by them. You will be blessed if you do so.

If you do not have faith or do the thing against which you have faith because you doubt like a wave tossed to and fro, the thing you do condemns you and your conscience.

Con - with, Science - knowledge.

If you go against the things you know or believe you know, the thing you do does not proceed from faith, but from doubt. Paul states here this is sin.

Have faith in God. Not in your decisions or positions. Faith in God. That is goal.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Amazing Grace

Listen HERE.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

Friday, January 20, 2012

When God makes a promise

Psalm 89:28-37

28My steadfast love I will keep for him forever,
and my covenant will stand firm for him
29I will establish his offspring forever
and his throne as the days of the heavens.
30 If his children forsake my law
and do not walk according to my rules,
31if they violate my statutes
and do not keep my commandments,
32then I will punish their transgression with the rod
and their iniquity with stripes,
33but I will not remove from him my steadfast love
or be false to my faithfulness.
34I will not violate my covenant
or alter the word that went forth from my lips.
35Once for all I have sworn by my holiness;
I will not lie to David.
36His offspring shall endure forever,
his throne as long as the sun before me.
37Like the moon it shall be established forever,
a faithful witness in the skies.

God will discipline those He loves who stray, but He will faithfully pursue them, discipline them, cherish them, and pity them for His Name sake. Because He wants to. Because He has chosen to do so. Not because of them, but because of Him.

Once for all He has sworn by His holiness

His holiness. His promise. Once for all.

Feel the weight and beauty of that.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Taking time to chew your bites

Utmost 12/15 pt. 2

Always make it a practice to stir your own mind thoroughly to think through what you have easily believed. Your position is not really yours until you make it yours through suffering and study. The author or speaker from whom you learn the most is not the one who teaches you something you didn’t know before, but the one who helps you take a truth with which you have quietly struggled, give it expression, and speak it clearly and boldly.

Do you struggle through some of the difficult realities presented by the Bible?

Election? Predestination? Sin? Suffering? Jesus' death? Baptism? Communion? Grace? Women in ministry? Marriage? Divorce? Excommunication?

These are difficult and easy to pervert without the Holy Spirit, humility and study.

You can defer to your denominations' codified beliefs on these topics, but unless you think and study and read the Bible for yourself and ask the Holy Spirit to give light to your mind, you will not own these in a personal sense. You will not hold these convictions. You will parrot other's convictions.

This does not mean you have to be intellectually elite or a thinker on the Myers-Briggs personality inventory to be a real or deep Christian.

It does mean that whatever your capacity you will have to think through these if you want to hold them deeply.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Youcef stands strong

Full story HERE.

Youcef was reportedly offered release from his prison home of over 2 years to publicly declare the Muhammed is God's messenger.

Youcef refused.

Keep him in your prayers.

Facing his death and his imprisonment, he is keeping his face toward Jesus.

Another article HERE.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Justice and Love finally become more than "just friends"

Psalm 85:10

10 Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.

Righteousness and Peace cannot be friends without Christ.

Righteousness demands justice. Justice demands retribution and vengeance. If vengeance is the LORD's, His promise of faithfulness guarantees He will right wrongs. That requires righting wrongdoers in the face!

Peace demands that rebels be put down permanently. Peace means the end of adversaries.

Jesus Christ officiates righteousness and peace's first kiss from the pain of Calvary.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Nothing But The Blood

Listen HERE.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Now by this I’ll overcome—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
Now by this I’ll reach my home—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Glory! Glory! This I sing—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
All my praise for this I bring—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


Friday, January 13, 2012

God and politics

For whom does God want me to vote?

I don't know.

I'm not sure there is an answer, or if there is, that it is my job to fleece it out per se.

There are obviously certain positions on certain topics that are more easily deciphered from Biblical principles.

Should we kill unborn children God has created? Easy peasy

Should we force Christian organizations to hire non-Christians on staff? Lemon squeezy

I don't think God is a Republican. I'm pretty sure He's not a Democrat :)

That said, I do believe there is plenty of good reason to invest time and energy into thinking about the issues, the future, the candidates, and their ability to do that which you believe to be what government should do - what God has created it to do.

We the People... are subject to God (whether we vote for Him or not)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Justified and Assured

So foolish are we when in pride outstretch arms
To the works we forsook to secure now our hearts
The flesh profits nothing nor merits with God
That by grace and through faith we receive Jesus’ laud
That by grace and through faith we receive Jesus’ laud


Our chores, no more!
Our hope secured
Jesus lived, Jesus died
Justified and Assured

Our chores, no more!
Our hope secured
Lived the life He demands

Died the death we deserve
Yes! He lived and He died
Justified and Assured

So foolish are we when forlorn fix our gaze
On the rags and the refuse the Cross did away
To flesh’s fading glory no more do we look
For in Christ anchored firm He our names in His Book
For in Christ anchored firm He our names in His Book

So foolish are we when believe we our minds
That His promise in Christ cannot Holy us find
Paid full He our debt confident we to stand
Cannot finish by flesh what the Spirit began
Cannot finish by flesh what the Spirit began

So foolish are we when in toil seek we rest
For the righteousness Jesus worked betters our best
That which wages earn cannot rival this boast:
“Our good work compares not to Your glory bestowed!”
“Our good work compares not to Your glory bestowed!”

So happy are we when plant firm we our feet
And lay up no foundation than Jesus’ complete
From His “It is finished!” can no one subtract
For in Jesus is everything, nothing can add
For in Jesus is everything, nothing can add

~ an original poem/hymn by Todd Henry Van Voorst

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A prison home companion

An update on Youcef.


Please print and post THIS.

If so inclined, please take a moment to write a letter to Mr. Nadarkhani following the address and instructions at the bottom of the prisoner profile.

It is important to keep our brothers and sisters in our prayers. Especially when the "run-out-the-clock" mentality is being taken in hopes that he may one day be executed when fickle eyes have turned away.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tension in supplication

I love that Christians lead the way in adoption and attempt to come along side those making the tough choice to carry a child they will not be raising. There are any number of beautiful reasons to adopt.

One thing I have noticed, however, is that it can often lead to odd prayer requests.

Here is what I mean.

Under any normal circumstance, we would (as Christians) assert that a mother and a father should step up and take care of their responsibilities. We would urge them to love their children and sacrifice their own wants and time and energies to raise the child they have been given. This is ideally speaking of course.

I understand there are any number of circumstances where this ideal is note achieved.

However, I have a hard time praying that the father of a child potentially up for adoption would forego any paternal instincts and walk away from his child. I know this is easier for the prospective adoptive parents and possible for the child. It may even be that this is the "best" possible outcome given the less-than-ideal circumstances.

It just feels weird to me. It is hard to ask God to harden the heart of a dad or mom toward their child that they might sign the papers more quickly, even if the prospective adoptive parents are Christian brothers and sisters (who may be unable to have children on their own for whatever reason God has determined for them).

I do not presume to have any answers or hard-and-fast opinions on the matter that are well-gounded, Biblically-grounded, and a point of division.

I am merely hoping to raise this as a question of interest. Has anyone else ever been conflicted by this phenomena? Is it right to pray that a teen mom or dad would voluntarily close their heart to their child? Not just give them up, but give up on them? It is a weird thing to pray? Is it possible that somewhere another group of Christians are praying for that prospective adoptive mother to reconsider and raise her child?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Be Thou My Vision

Listen HERE.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Do you Take Notes?

I was reading through the Bible today and read these words...

Romans 11:22

Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

Have you ever taken note of this? We know from earlier in this epistle the purpose of God's kindness. We know from this chapter as well that God's wrath and severity are for those who do not believe and break faith.

The watershed that is the Cross of Christ is so paramount that it is simulataneously a robust demonstration of God's kindness and severity.

Our God is a consuming fire. Our LORD is a long-suffering, patient, Holy, loving, Father.

Note this.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Perfect, Patient, Glor'ous

The LORD in child did seek to dwell
And knit together in a womb
The chosen seed of Israel
Came down a babe aimed toward a tomb
By Holy Spirit was conceived
The Word of God veiled in our flesh
The true and promised Son of Eve
One born to die to disarm death

For unto us a Child is born
This perfect, patient, glor’ous morn
The Child though slain now lives and reigns
This perfect, patient, glor’ous day

Ancient of Days a babe became
The boundless God in skin was bound
As meek and mild came He to save
The timeless Lord in time was found
A toddler by Whom worlds were kept
A child in Whom no sin was birthed
A lad from Whom existence lept
Who walked on land; Who made the earth


A Man immortal rent His life
And shed all glory to Him owed
That by His death no more shall die
The sinless LORD with thorns was crowned
Upon a tree razed by our sweat
A Savior died, Good News to all
By God’s design, by Jesus’ death
The second Adam felled the Fall


That day unlike all passed before
A Savior born, Good News to all
That God with us our flesh has worn
And righteous found our toil He calmed
That day unlike all passed before
When Child o’er Whom His Father wept
Became our sin, and wrath He bore
For pierced and crushed paid He our debt


~ an original poem/hymn by Todd Henry Van Voorst

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

All roads lead to Romans

What if I were to tell you that God chooses some people and not others. That He picks on the basis of His own wisdom and not on the basis of our merit, work, value, desire, sincerity, or usefulness.

I would guess you would say something like THIS.

Paul anticipated this backlash to his assertion and addressed it in the same context of the text of Romans 9.

This is a difficult text and not to be handled lightly or by the light-hearted. I know your knee-jerk reaction is to immediately assume he can't mean what it sounds like he means. Smarter people than me have debated this passage and the implications thereof since Paul wrote it.

It is clear from Scripture, that a lot of what Paul was given by the Spirit to articulate is difficult to flesh out in our minds and many will use this as opportunity to distort the Truth.

I am not a Biblical scholar by any means. This is a difficult assertion. It challenges many of our assumptions (particularly as westerners lustfully yoked to independence and "you can be whatever you are willing to work to achieve.").

But it is worth noting that the Spirit inspired Paul to write it and addresses the very reaction one would expect to hearing it.

Sometimes things are not what they seem. Sometimes we want things to be other than what they seem. Sometimes things are exactly what they seem.

Paul foresaw by the Spirit the reaction to this bold assertion of the extent of God's sovereignty HERE & HERE.

Is God sovereign? Really sovereign? Can He really do what he wants? Does His sovereignty make you uncomfortable? Is God subject to the court of public opinion? If not the public's opinion, what about yours?

You have the internet and the links to Romans 9 above. How do you read?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I was reading the Bible and came across this statement:

Romans 11:32

For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

God's desire is to have mercy. He enjoys it. The verse above states specifically that He desires to have mercy on all. In order to do this, He consigns all of them to disobedience.

"No one's perfect after all."
"Everyone makes mistakes."

These maxims are true. No one of us is perfect. We all do fall short. But that is not a license to aim for imperfection and strive to mistake.

God does not love our disobedience, but perhaps it is good that it exists in that it provides the opportunity for Him to provide mercy. This is not me saying that evil is good or even implying it. Evil is not good. Whatever God desires and designs is good. We do not get to determine good and then hold God to it. God does what He wants and what He wants is good (even if it offends our better judgments).

From Barnes' notes on the Bible:

"The word translated here "consigned" sunekleise, is rendered in the margin "shut them all up together." It is properly used in reference to those who are shut up in prison, or to those in a city who are shut up by a besieging army."

We are all imprisoned because of our disbelief. In the words of "And Can It Be That I Should Gain."

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.

God is a God of mercy because we are a people who deserve imprisonment. It is not God's desire that we be imprisoned, but it is His love and justice to imprison rebels and then in mercy, show them grace.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Before The Throne

Listen HERE.

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea:
A great High Priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on his hands,
My name is written on his heart;
I know that while in heaven he stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
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
To look on Him and pardon me

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
With Christ, my Savior and my God

Buy it HERE.