Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thoughts from the Rizers "John 14:27"

I was listening to the Rizers’ song “John 14:27” while I was working today.

I HIGHLY recommend you listen and purchase HERE.
“Yes,” I can listen to music on headphones while I work. It’s a hard-knock life.

And “Yes,” I listen to children’s music on my iPod playlist.

I adore the Rizers and their music. If you have not heard them, check them out HERE.

John 14:27

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

I was struck by the words, “I do not give to you as the world gives.”

It made me think, “How does the world give?”

Think about it. To whom, what, when, where, and why do you give?

Probably to people you think deserve it or have earned it, causes you feel are worthy, stuff for your personal enjoyment, when you feel like it, where people can see you doing it or when the person is most likely to reciprocate (or at least feel some pressure to do so), because you are trying to make up for inadequacies and things you withhold in others areas, out of obligation, out of bitterness, or because you want something in return.

Jesus gives to people who do not deserve it. He gives out of His abundance and generosity. He gives us the Holy Spirit and the fruits thereof. He does it while we are yet sinners and deserve nothing. He does it in history on a particular Cross on a specific day some 2,000 years ago at a specific place. He does it because He loves the elect - those on whom He has chosen to show His favor for eternity.

Jesus does not give as the world gives. That is so comforting and reassuring.

God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways.

That gave me a great sense of peace today just chewing on it briefly.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


1 Corinthians 16:13-14

13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.

The word translated here "act like men" is the Greek word andrizomai. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament this same word is often used where you see the charge, "Be strong and courageous!"

What does it mean to act like men?

Diffiferent people may have different ideas about what acting like a man should look like. But I think most agree that it involves something of accessing those things that make us and define us as men in comparison to the weaker sex.

Men are strong and are impressed by strength. Men are capable and inspire comfort and security by their confidence. Men are leaders, whether in battle or in confession. Men serve and spend themselves for the sake of those they love. Men die so that others may live.

Paul is telling the church at Corinth to act like men. He is not telling women to act like men. He is expecting the primary recipient of this charge to be the men of Corinth. He has already addressed gender roles and complementarianism in chapter 11 of 1 Corinthians.

The glory of God is by grace placed on men to serve Christ and in Him inherit His Kingdom.

I heard John Piper once say, "to be a man means you go down with the boat." A clear reference to women and children being the first candidates for the lifeboats and the men being the means by which said women and children are placed, protected, and secured in the lifeboats.

1 John 3:16

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thoughts from "D6"

D6 is our family ministry at my church. D6 stands for Deuteronomy 6 where parents are commanded to raise their children in the knowledge of God at all times: day, night, eating, walking, etc...

Roger Wheeler, an elder at my church, filled in for the family pastor and discussed a concept from Shepherding a Child's Heart

Colossians 2:8

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

We discussed the traditions of men that we often embrace as Americans. Be a leader, not a follower! Always win! Never give up!

There are times to try to win. There are times to persevere and not give up. There are times to lead. However, winning is not literally everything. Winning is something. Just not everything. Working hard is a Biblical virtue. Winning often comes a result of working hard. But winning can be achieved by cheating, dishonesty, unchecked aggression, and hatred.

Persevering is something. Just not everything. Devotion and convenant are Biblical concepts. However, giving up on your attempts to achieve righteousness by merit and achievement is also a Biblical concept. It is ok (and even preferable) to give up being self-reliant. To abandon your devotion to the world and its ways.  Sticking it out is not a virtue in all circumstances.  Better to kick that sinful habit than to devotedly cherish it.

Leading is something. Just not everything. We are called to follow Jesus. If people follow us as we follow Jesus, then we may be rightly said to be leading them. Jesus empowers, gifts, and calls some to lead. He always does so by calling them first to follow hard after Jesus.  Leading is only as virtuous as the place or Person to which it leads.

Phariseeism is most often the result of people attempting to get other people to follow them. The desire for followers never leads to that person following Jesus or encouraging others to follow Jesus. Your desire to lead always leads to humiliation when you fail to lead the way even you desire.

Only Jesus can be trusted fully to lead. We must commit ourselves to following Him.

Some good thoughts. I love mulling over stuff like that and I am so grateful that Cornerstone has so many elders who are rightly qualified to teach as prescripted by the Bible.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Give Me Jesus

Listen HERE. Purchase HERE.

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

When I am alone
When I am alone
Oh, when I am alone
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

When I come to die
When I come to die
Oh, when I come to die
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
You can have all this world
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus

Friday, May 25, 2012

Money matters

1 Corinthians 16:2

2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.

When it comes to your money the first priority is understanding that it's not your money.
I have the advantage of talking about it while not asking you specifically for it. While you may be put off by your pastor talking about it, the Apostle Paul wrote it.

Money matters and your pastor deserves to be paid for what he does. Many have abused this right by making themselves rich off the charity of others. This does not excuse your disobedience regarding the matter however.

One the first day of the week.... Paul says the first thing you need to do is set aside the money you have determined to give to God and His purposes. Your church should not have to do fundraisers to simply meet budget. As you prosper, you should set aside the fruit of this prospering.

You will fail at this. You will think of the bigger television, the bigger barns, the bigger house, and the bigger belly (at least the food you want to put in it while crossing your fingers from outward appearance it remains sleak and stylish) you desire. You will likely forget God and remember yourself.

God's grace can cover even this sin and if you are in Christ you're seen as though you have always set aside the first fruits of your labors and never withheld that which ought to be devoted solely to Jesus.

However, we ought to make every effort to give and to remember to make priority of opportunities God places before us to give and show charity and generosity.

Do this because God has in Christ given you everything and not withheld any good thing. Do this because you want to and you get to, not because you have to. You do not have to give in order for God to give to you. He gave when you were selfish.

In light of this, now give yourself and what is "yours" to others and to Him.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thoughts from "The Cost of Following Jesus"

At Men's BASIC this morning Pastor Troy showed this video HERE by Francis Chan.

It is a good reminder that following Jesus requires something. It is a commitment. It is a departure of one thing and a devotion to another. There are certain things one must do in order to be a disciple according to Jesus: hate your brother, sister, mother, father, and even your own life. There are certain things one cannot do and still considered a disciple as well: go only halfway, turn back, and follow only part of His teaching.

Francis Chan gives us a powerful reminder of the cost of discipleship. This is mentioned many times in the Gospels by Jesus. A book of the same title, The Cost of Discipleship, by Bonhoeffer is also a good read.

Most of all when watching this video I thought about how cowardly and weak I often am and how difficult the words of Jesus are to put into practice. I know that I cannot in my own person muster up the courage and devotion required to do all that Jesus commands. That does not excuse my inability to obey them, however. I am to blame. My nature and my choices have rendered me impotent with regard to divine command.

I pray that Jesus would equip me to abandon that which He calls me to crucify. I also pray He would equip me to love and embrace that which He calls me to sanctify. I cannot do it on my own. I would not choose the right things.

I would kill that which He loves and love that for which He was killed. This is my story. This is my song.

I love Jesus. I want to love Jesus more. I need Jesus to help me love Jesus more.

There is much to be said about election, security, confidence, and imputation with regard to the way I ought to feel about God and my relationship with Him because of what Jesus has done. But there is much also to be said for that which Jesus calls His disciples to in order to make their calling and election sure.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

You cannot prove paganism to be false per se

1 Corinthians 15:17

17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.

Unlike every other religion, Christianity pivots on a historical event. If Jesus Christ was not resurrected from the dead, our faith is ridiculous. Even more, it ought to be ridiculed because we are testifying wrongly about God.

Your faith in God and Jesus is obnoxious and foolish if Jesus is still dead.

No other religion in the world can be proven false because none of them - at their core - depend on a historical event. You can continue in good conscience to believe in Islam, Hindusim, Buddhism, Mormonism, etc.. if any of their claims are disproven factually. Every religion other than Christianity is subjective in that it speaks to a feeling, an essence, a spirituality, a faith, a belief, etc...

You cannot disprove any religion other than Christianity because it alone puts forth a concrete Truth claim.

Christianity has faith and belief and spirituality and feelings and essence: only after Jesus is raised from the dead.

Simply put: If Jesus is not raised, we are still in our sins.

There is no reason for Christianity to exist if Jesus is still dead.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Thoughts from "For or Against Calvinism"

Recently I listened to For or Against Calvinism from the White Horse Inn.

There are two parts if you want to listen: HERE

This is a conversation between Roger Olson and Michael Horton. It is very interesting and worth your time.

The conversation regarded Arminianism and Calvinism. Roger Olson is an adamant Arminian and Michael Horton is a convinced Calvinist.

Admittedly, I went into this already having determined which side I was "cheering" for per se. Michael Horton carries the torch well for my worldview and Biblical theology. I am sure there are points on which we may differ and on which I could be convinced otherwise. For example, I know that Michael Horton is an apologist for infant baptism. Admittedly, his explanation of it is the best and most persuasive I have ever heard, yet I am not there yet, but understand and sympathize with it more as a result of having heard his attempt at a Biblical explanation for it.

I felt that this conversation consister of Roger Olson appealing to his ideas of what God should be and how those do not mesh well with Calvinism. He repeatedly said, "If I were to believe that about God, I would have to see Him as a monster. I am not saying that you (Michael Horton) think he is a monster. I am just saying that I would see Him that way if what you are saying is true."

Michael Horton mentioned his own difficulties in coming across Romans 9 in his Bible. He even threw it across the room. He knew it would have to shake his ideas about God to believe what the Bible was saying about him.

As John Wesley once said, "whatever it (Romans 9) means, it can't mean that! (what a plain reading implies)"

We all come to the Bible with our own ideas about God and find verses that challenge that. Calvinism and Arminianism both have verses in the Bible that cause difficulty to their position's infallibility. It is without a doubt that when we see Jesus we will see Him as He is and our theological systems will have to expand and burst in order to make room for the Messiah in His glory.

That said, it is well worth the effort of talking this through and debating and studying and thinking and loving and repenting (changing our minds) and submitting to who God reveals Himself to be.

Are there verses in the Bible that perhaps do not mean exactly what a cursory reading would seem to imply? Yes. Arminianism and Calvinism both agree on this matter. The Bible requires some context and study to understand some verses which are deeper than the surface reading.

Are there verses in the Bible that perhaps mean exactly what a cursory glance seems to imply? Yes. It is a matter of knowing which are which I suppose.

Horton and Olson have a lot in common. They differ, however, on "which are which."

Monday, May 21, 2012

My Savior, My God

Listen HERE. Purchase HERE.

I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned
I only know at His right hand
Stands one who is my Savior

I take Him at His word and deed
Christ died to save me; this I read
And in my heart I find a need
Of Him to be my savior

That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior

My Savior loves, My Savior lives
My Savior's always there for me
My God: He was, my God; He is
My God is always gonna be

Yes, living, dying, let me bring
My strength, my solace from this spring;
That He who lives to be my King
Once died to be my Savior

That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior

My Savior loves, My Savior lives
My Savior loves, My Savior lives

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Gospel 101

This is of first importance. Before anything else... this.

1 Corinthians 15:1-7

1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

This is the Gospel and it is of FIRST importance.

If there is not this, there is no Gospel. People may believe in Jesus and have warm feelings toward Him and kick smoking habits and stop watching pornography and find a husband and get responsible financially and all sorts of great things. But if Jesus did not actually live, die, and rise again, it is all hocus pocus, feel-good, sentimental, "eat and drink for tomorrow we die" soup for the soul. The proof and foundation of the claims of Christianity are only validated inasmuch as Jesus really lived, died, and rose again. Easter is Christianity. If not for Easter, then Christianity is Islam is New Age is Pop Psychology is Better Life Now.

If Christianity is not true, there is no reason to believe it.

There are many, even wolves within the Christian community, that would claim that the power and effects of believing in Jesus are worth it even if He is a fictional character, a protagonist of a great mythology, a great idea, a muse, a good man who once taught good things to good people to help them become better people.

Let me be absolutely clear on this point. If Jesus was not God and did not live perfectly, die substitutionally, and rise definitively Christianity is in vain. You and I are still in our sins before the Father and are still enemy combatants against Him both by nature and by choice.

My hope is that Jesus is who He says He is and that He did what the Bible says He did. My salvation is only as secure as my trust in Him being for me true Israel, the fulfillment of the Scriptures, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, the Good News.
If He is that, Christianity is the only true religion and all other truth claims are lies inspired by demonic darkness.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thoughts from "Are You and Introvert or Extrovert?"

I recently listened to a small video by Mark Driscoll regarding leadership style referred to me by my awesome sister-in-Christ (how hokie Christianese is that?  For the record, she is my sister-in-law). You can listen HERE.

You do have to sign-up to listen, but it is very simple (email and name). Acts 29 is a fantastic organization fueled by Mars Hill and the Resurgence and Mark Driscoll.

Whether you lead people or not, you should take a moment to listen to this brief presentation comparing and contrasting the I vs. E dimension of the Myers-Briggs personality inventory.

I used to be a much stronger "E" than I currently am. I think having a wife and 3 children fills so much of that social energy for me that I am now more of an "I". Also, I get 2 hours of quiet time per day as I drive to and from work which meets a good portion of my "I" time. I get to bump into co-workers and have interactions all day. So by the end of it, I am ready to be alone at home with my family. I feel like an "E" at work. I love brief conversations with many different people. At home, I am an "I" and enjoy deep, rich relationship with my wife and kids.

I found this very helpful and useful. My wife and I had a great conversation about it after watching it together. If you have a wife or husband, watch it and discuss. It may be quite beneficial to forgiveness, understanding, and unity going forward for you both.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Raising up the razed

Psalm 145:14

14 The LORD upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.

If God has raised it up, it can never be knocked down.

Like felled trees of the forrest that are now raised right and rooted are those to whom His grace has fallen.

Those proud, mighty oak and ancient, anchored sequoia will one day be brought low before those trees now exalted and rooted deep in the foundation of Christ. Only Christ and those in Him will stand on that final day.

The LORD upholds those who are falling. The LORD raises up all who are bowed down.

The basis of our confidence is the LORD. Not our fallings. Not our humility. Not our bowing. But the LORD who is faithful to forgive, exalt, sanctify, glorify, and use those who fall and seek mercy through humility.

Repentance and humility are meaningless if the LORD does not forgive or show mercy to the weak and meek. The LORD is salvation. The LORD is our great reward.

We only have salvation inasmuch as we have the LORD. If you have Him, you have all of salvation. There is no more. There is no less. If you have Him, you have everything.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thoughts from "Faith & Experience"

I listened recently to a podcast from the White Horse Inn entitled "Faith & Experience."

The speakers spoke to the notion of experience being the ultimate arbitrator of reality and how many revivalistic and essentially gnostic (the term being used early in English to describe how the book of Revelation characterized the sin of Thyatira) presentations of the Gospel appeal primarily to a crisis moment or internal realization (self-actualization if you will).

The point being this: being reborn is not a process that begins by awaking something inside you, but is a process that comes from without and invades the person (reaching to the very core of said person).

It is not to say that being reborn does not also incorporate and envelop a set of experiences perceived and interpreted by the object. Being reborn and having Christ reside in you through the invasion of the Spirit may rightly be said to necessitate some experience. However, the faith and the facts and testimony of the early Apostles was not often that of their life experience, but of the fact of Jesus' deity as evidenced by His life, death, and resurrection. These are objective, historical facts. The Gospel was fulfilled one specific afternoon by a specific man who was God nailed to a specific cross by specific roman soldiers. This happened once for all.

Reality cannot be held hostage to experience. Experience can interpret reality, but it cannot define it.

The Truth and the Faith are not subject to your subjective feelings about it.

That leads to two very potent conclusions:

(1) Some people are not saved simply because they had a liver shiver back at summer camp in the 7th grade.

(2) Some people are held strong and safe in the hands of the Savior though their feelings ebb and flow daily and their love precipices, peaks, valleys, and falls short day to day.

Faith may be subjective only in that it is hard to define using concrete terms. It is difficult to assess using merely a checklist. Do you have faith? How much faith do you have? Do you have more or less faith than you had yesterday? These are not easy questions and we immediately jump to subjective means by which to gauge progress/regress/success. Experiences may be awesome or horrifying, but neither make Jesus' claim truer or falser.

At the end of the day the Christian does not merely fall back on "I know He lives because He lives in me" as proof that Jesus is alive.

Jesus is alive because the tomb is empty! Hallelujah! What a Savior! He is not alive because you believe Him to be.

He is alive despite many believing He is dead!

We are called to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. That exhortation is followed however with the reminder that we cannot do anything against the Truth. The Truth is outside of us. It enters into us by the Holy Spirit's testimony of Jesus Christ. Even in that event however, the Truth is a foreign agent regenerating us from without, not from within. What I mean by that is if the Spirit is to make us perfect and holy in the sight of God, it will be by using divine influence and hardware that comes from the outside of us and is imputed/placed to/into us -- not by using the natural machinery found already in us.

"We are so obsessed with our beautiful little inward selves" ~ Dr. Michael Horton

It is worthy of noting and meditating on how you felt during the first days of your relationship with Jesus. It is not the feelings, however, that make Jesus real or alive. It is not our feelings about Jesus that saved us then nor sustain us now. It is our belief and faith in Him as our  righteousness, our LORD and our devotion to Him in covenant love inspired by the Holy Spirit.

I am not less married to my wife when I am angry with her. I am not less committed to her. My marriage is not contingent on my feelings toward my wife. It certainly does influence my marriage with my wife and definitely is a part of its growth and experience. However, we are married because of the vows we made and the God before Whom we made them.

Monday, May 14, 2012

There is Power in the Blood

Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;

Would you o’er evil a victory win?
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.

There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Would you be free from your passion and pride?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide;
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.

Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Sin-stains are lost in its life-giving flow;

There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.

Would you do service for Jesus your King?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Would you live daily His praises to sing?
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

*SPECIAL* Mother's Day Edition

My wife, Paige, is an excellent mother. She loses sleep for the sake of raising and nourishing our children. She loses free time for the sake of teaching and discipling our children. She loses her patience on occassion. She loses her pride and asks our children to forgive her in Christ.

My wife stays home with our 3 children (currently ages 3 1/2, 2, and 2 months). Her desire has always been to be a mother and a wife. She performs both like a person who has always wanted to do it. There is something about someone doing what they love and desire to do that makes it a sacred profession. In this particular scenario, that allusion could not be more accurately applied.

Mothering and homemaking are arts, skills, talents, professions, and sanctifying applications. Paul tells Timothy that women have a distincit role in the church body. Women are to raise their children and teach younger women to do the same. This may seem intuitively obvious, yet it has become more and more of a novelty. It is widely recognized that daycare providers are professionals (and highly paid ones at that). Yet it is not so recognized that the women raising their own children are professionals, or even working by most.  Often people reply, "Oh, you just stay at home." JUST. What a ridiculously loaded and misappropriated insertion into that retort.

My wife stays home in order to love our children, take care of our home, and fulfill her Biblical calling and ministry. She does so with grace and the mercy of God. It is not easy work and she does it well. I could not be more comforted in knowing that she is with our kids every moment of everyday. I could not trust anyone more with the task.  

It is a deeply meaningful ministry to me as a husband to have a wife at home preparing my children's meals, disciplining them in grace to see their need and God's provision of completion in Christ, decorating and making beautiful our home, and providing a stability and cadence to daily life. The home does not change as staff rolls over because my wife is committed to the task and those for whom the tasks are performed.

Today I honor my wife. Her profession is noble and she performs it honorably. It is not, however, simply the office she occuppies that makes her worthy of acknowledgement on this special day, but the grace by which she fulfills it.

Proverbs 31:28-31

28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.


Please bless my wife for all of her hard work. May her children rise up and call her blessed as they see more and more the efforts she places into honoring God and them in fulfilling her ministry as a woman of God in Christ. May she know deeply the appreciation I have for her and the gratitude to God I often am stirred to offer Him. Many women have done excellently, but Paige is my wife and I would choose her again over any I know. None is more suited to be my helpmate than her. May her works praise her at the gates of pearl as she is welcomed. Help her to know and love and cherish You God before all things. May her soul be stretched and her mind be calmed in Christ daily. May she know the value of hard work through the value of rest in Jesus. May she have the desires of her heart as You conform them more and more to replicate Your will. May she know You and be given faith upon faith to believe in Jesus only, Jesus solely, Jesus ever after always. Amen.

Charm and beauty are deceitful and vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is of the utmost quality.

My wife fears the Lord. My wife is also very charming and beautiful. So eat that world: you can't touch this!,  Todd=1, World=0,  and "Thank You," Jesus. I could not be more blessed.

Read her blog HERE.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Thoughts from Mark 2:23-3:19

Today Pastor Geoff Safford taught on Mark 2:23-3:19

Pastor Geoff was the pastor of Westwind church in Waukee which was planted in coordination with Cornerstone Church. Pastor Geoff is now leaving to plant a church in Indianola in coordination with Cornerstone Church as Westwind has grown and has leadership in place.

In verse 27 of Mark 2 Jesus confirms His deity by informing the Pharisees that He wrote the Law. The Author of the Law is God and the Pharisees knew this. It is a clear declaration of power and authority from the mouth of Jesus.

In verse 5 of Mark 3 Jesus is angered and grieved by the sinful hearts of the Pharisees. Pastor Geoff encouragd us to remember to hate sin. In our world, we often grow so accustomed to the darkness that we call it "Light lite."

Jesus hated the sin of the Pharisees. Jesus was grieved and sorrowful over the sin of the Pharisees. It is my contention that most Christians tend either to do one or the other, but seldom both simultaneously.

We are often either hateful, judgmental, know-it-alls or sentimental saps when it comes to sins. We need not just to be angry about sin, but sad over it. We need not just to be grieved by sin, but mad about it. Jesus was both. The one who only hates sins is never motivated to seek and save the lost through the power of the Gospel because of the stumbling block of their own hardness toward those in error. The one who only grieves sins is never motivated to seek and save the lost through the power of the Gospel because of the stumbling block of preaching repentance to those caught in sin.
Jesus preached repentance and hell and punishment and healing and love and forgiveness. He was grieved over the sin He hated.

In verse 6 of Mark 3 the Pharisees partner with the most unlikely parnters, the Herodians. This demonstrates that while the world disagrees and will kill, debate, imprison, hate, and ostracize their fellow man over any and every thing possible; they are determinedly united on this issue of Jesus: He must be destroyed.

In verse 13 of Mark 3 Jesus calls the disciples He desired and they came.

Two points of interest:

(1) Jesus chose the disciples He desired (not everyone, only some; not every man, only some men; not every person, just men; not the best, those He desired) I find some of the most intense moments of frustration come from my attempts to be the best when the rest that is preached is being desired by Jesus. His Gospel came to me and the Holy Spirit made me afresh and rebirthed me into a new family, those born of God.

(2) Those whom Jesus called came. He did not call 12 and 10 came. He called 12 and 12 came. Those He desired were drawn to Him and came to Him upon His command. Did Jesus just by luck choose the right 12 or did He know ahead of time that these 12 would come? Did He choose the 12 based on His knowledge that they would come when called? Or did Jesus provide the means and grace to come as well as the call to come? This particular Scripture does not expand on this concept much other than to say that those He desired, He possessed; and those He was given, He did not lose.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Plants, Pillars, and Palaces

Psalm 144:12

12 May our sons in their youth
be like plants full grown,
our daughters like corner pillars
cut for the structure of a palace;

Full grown plants are fruitful and beautiful and a joy to everyone. Plants are purposeful and planted by the hand of a Sovereign LORD.

Corner pillars of palaces are ornate and beautiful and functional. They are aesthetic and pragmatic. Without them the palace is less beautiful. Additionally (and perhaps more importantly ) without them the palace collapses.

May our children be useful, beautiful, sturdy, functional, helpful, essential, and a blessing to those around them. Most importantly, may they glorify God and enjoy Him forever in the places they are planted or raised up by His Sovereign hands.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Beating a dead horse to reach dead people

It is important to see over and over in Scripture that we are not righteous before God and as a response ought fear His judgment if brought in justice.

It is also a recurring theme that we need instruction on how to be Godly and do not possess in our person the ability or machinery to produce or even sniff at righteousness.

Psalm 143:2

Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.

Psalm 143:10

Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!

People do not serve God by accident. His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. You are not a decent person who discovers Jesus and adds Him as a cherry on top of your hot fudge sundae life. You do not need Jesus to save you because you were almost there and just needed a push to get to your destination. Jesus is not your 5 hour energy to get you through that 2:30 in the afternoon feeling.
You need Jesus because you were headed to the wrong place. You need Jesus because you were dead and needed to be reborn alive. 5 hour energy does nothing for dead people anymore than an increase in gas mileage will get you into Heaven if you are driving the opposite direciton.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thoughts from "Erasing Hell"

Francis Chan is a man of God attempting to rightly speak of God and His revealed plans for people who embrace and reject Jesus as their Savior.

Take a moment and listen to this mini-sermon introducing his book, "Erasing Hell."

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Old Account Was Settled Long Ago

Listen HERE. Purchase HERE.

There was a time on Earth when in the books of Heaven
That an Old Account was standin' for sins yet unforgiven
My name was at the top there was many things below
But I went unto the keeper and I settled it long ago

Long ago,yes long ago I said the Old Account was settled long ago
And my record's clear today 'cause he washed my sins away
And the Old Account was settled long ago

Well the Old Account was large and growin' everyday
I was always sinnin' and I never tried to pray
But when I looked ahead and saw such pain and woe
Well I thoguht I'd better get it settled, so I settled it long ago

Long ago, long ago Yes the Old Account was settled long ago
And my record's clear today 'cause he washed my sins away
And The Old Account was settled long ago

Now sinner seek the Lord, and repent of all your sins
'Cause this He commanded if you should enter in
And then if you should live a hundred years below
Well you know you got it settled 'cause you settled it long ago

Long ago, long ago Yes the Old Account was settled long ago
And my record's clear today 'cause he washed my sins away
And The Old Account was settled long ago

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bonus Post

I was reading Pastor Jeff's blog this morning and was really encouraged and empowered in my Rock and Salvation, my Fortress, my Protector, my LORD, my Warrior, my Comforter, my All in all.  The bruised reed He will not break and the smoldering wick He will not snuff out.  He is there for me because He loves me.  What a powerful message in particular to parents who when raising littles very rarely are blessed with heart-produced gratitude.  It is not in vain.  In serving and cherishing we show the love of God as He has shown tirelessly to us.

"They imagine that they eat and walk on their own strength."

 Check it out HERE.

It is extremely powerful, poignant, and pithy.  It will take you only a short time to read it, but the truth of it will leave you chewing long after.  It is a very articulate and simple breakdown of the passage and the communication of God’s unfailing, often unappreciated love for us.

Thoughts from Mark 2:1-22

Today at church an elder, Alex Tuckness, taught the congregation from Mark 2:1-22.

Alex set the scene by asking you to imagine a scenario in which a man in Iowa was reportedly curing people from cancer just through his touch. Iowa has roughly 3 million people. The US alone has over 12 million people with cancer. You can imagine the droves of people flocking to Iowa to meet this man and have their loved ones cured from cancer.

Alex then asked us to imagine this man had a message to proclaim. Most would not hear it or have time for it in their zeal of getting healed. Most would find the man less interesting the less he healed them or people they knew.

Mark 2:2 states that Jesus was preaching the Word. Jesus was a preacher. I know this is not how many like to view Jesus (in the same way many have a difficulty in calling God their Father because of negative feelings or attitudes towards dads) because they do not like being "preached at." As much as I can sympathize with people's negative reaction to being told they are sinners by a man behind a pulpit, I agree with him: You're sinners!

Mark 2:5 hits the real crux of the matter (figuratively speaking of course as Jesus will not be crucified for several chapters yet). Jesus steps outside of the miracle-man Healer and states that He has the authority to forgive a man's sins.

If a friend or co-worker (or relative of a friend or co-worker as is often the case it seems) ends up being ill, you can with no expected recourse state that you will pray for that person and their health. However, if someone informed you they were sick and their response was to tell you that they would pray that your sins be forgiven before God, you would expect a much different reaction. Most people (believers, atheists, muslims, catholics, pentacostals, druids, chinese, black, or fashionistas, etc...) will gladly welcome your sentiments to pray for their health. If you bring up their sin, we are having an altogether different conversation all of the sudden.

Many small group Bible studies are replete with requests for sicknesses. These are done with pinpoint specificity with regard to the husband of the sister of the cousin of the co-worker you used to work with and the exact nature of their illness, how long they've had it and how bad it has been for them. However, there is not a lot of prayer requests for specific sins with which we struggle. We are quick to bring up sympathetic topics that may legitimately necessitate prayer, but eternally have little consequence and yet very slow to bring up topics about which we might anticipate judgment or criticism that definitively require prayer and the Holy Spirit to revive and restore that which is broken and dead in sin.

Alex pointed out that Jesus had more in common theologically with the Pharisees than any other group of people. This may have been why so many of the disputes into which Jesus entered were with Pharisees. They came to the wrong conclusions with the same information and belief system. It is very frustrating to discuss topics with people on which you simultaneously agree in theory and disagree in practice.

Alex lastly and most poignantly stated that we like people who are most like us. We gravitate towards people who share our ideas, standard of living, morals, clothes, food preferences, health and exercise lifestyles, books, television shows, etc... We like people who are most like us. God likes people who are altogether not like Him. He has not other choice (if He is to like anybody that is). He has only people unlike Him in every way in their nature and by their choice.  But He chooses to like people. He chooses to be uncomfortable and break through the tension of language, culture, status, and economic barriers. He becomes like us to restore us.

Alex challenged us to reach out to those in our lives who are not like us. He ultimately challenged us not just to reach out to those in our lives who are different, but to seek out those who are not currently part of our lives because they are so different that we opt to stay away from them altogether. In doing so, we honor God by doing as He has done (not at all expecting to do what He did, but seeking to bring Him glory by living in a manner worthy of the Gospel).

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I would like to recognize...

1 Corinthians 14:37-38

37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.

Paul knew that the Holy Spirit spoke to and through him. He so confidently knew this to be eternally and externally verifiable that he took time in this letter to the church at Corinth to reinforce that if anyone claims to be spiritual or a speaker of truth on behalf of God, they ought acknowledge Paul's writings as though they are a direct command of the LORD.

Pastors often pray that God would speak through them to reach the lost. Paul knew definitively that God did speak through him and knew that he was writing authoritative Scripture as he penned his letters.

If you do not recognize this, you will not be recognized by God.

Many people know Brad Pitt and could spot him in a crowd (as is the only likely scenario in which you would see him as it seems unlikely that he would be anywhere without a crowd also being present). However, if he does not recognize you or acknowledge you, guess what? You don't know Brad Pitt.

Many people claim to know God and do so based on whatever grounds they deem to be most relevant to them. In the end, however, it will not matter on what grounds you believe to know God, but on the grounds of whether or not He knows you.

If you do not acknowledge Scripture, Scripture and its Author will not acknowledge you.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Thoughts from "Goodness vs. the Cross"

I found this gem on Youtube the other day while searching for Matt Chandler sermons.

Praise God in His wisdom that He saw fit to send His Son to die for my sin and to send His Holy Spirit to my ears and mind that I might know and believe in Him as my only hope!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lesson from Mark 1:14-45

Today Pastor Troy taught from Mark 1:14-45.

Verse 15 has a potent and pithy sermon from Jesus.

"The time is fulfilled. The Kingdom is near. Repent and believe the Good News!"

The in-breaking of God's love in Jesus Christ poured out on the Cross was within the lifetime of the God-man. The only appropriate response was to repent and believe the Gospel.

It is interesting that the "Good News" or "Gospel" is not defined for us in this opening chapter, but assumed. So it then begs the question. "What is the Good News in which I am to believe?"

Jesus Christ was God in flesh reconciling the world to Himself through His perfect life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection. This is the only means of redemption and reconciliation with a Holy Lord against whom we are born enemies.

Jesus approached Simon and Andrew and told them to fish on the other side of their boat. The geographical difference was merely a matter of feet, but the spiritual distance between fishing on the side of the boat that was deemed best to you and the side of the boat commanded to you by Jesus is beyond measure.

Simon Peter was a fisherman and made his living catching fish. Jesus blessed the work of his hands and provided him with fish overflowing. Most would see this as a confirmation of Jesus' hand in your life and would gladly invite Him back time and time again to bless the profession of choice. Most of us would make this an anchor that tied us the more to our current situation. Jesus, however, uses this demonstration of His power to call Simon Peter out of his present life and into the discipleship to Himself.

Our story was already in progress before Jesus showed up. We were doing what we loved, what we liked, what we had chosen, and He blessed it. Is not that confirmation that we should keep doing it? No. Not in this case. I wonder how often we see Jesus show up in power only long enough to see how wonderful it is for our current circumstance and how often we overlook that our present blessing is a gift from God to assist us in being freed from our current preferences and ushered into His purposes.

Jesus taught with authority and this fact is mentioned twice. He did not teach like the other teachers. He taught as one who spoke the very words of God. His words were like Scripture in their insistance on being obeyed. His words were not optional. They divided to the soul and spirit, joint and marrow. They cut to the quick. You either sided with Him (and by so doing God) or rejected Him and His God (the only God).

It is still so. Jesus' words are power. They are living water. They nurture the downtrodden and enlighten the simple. They illuminate the path of salvation and guide the thoughts of those entrusted with announcing this Message from pulpits, street corners, coffee shops, small groups, and radio programs. The Gospel is power. It is authoritative. It demands a response. It does not allow for apathy. By your ignorance you reject it. By your arrogance you defy it. By your obeisance you acknowledge it as your authority and your only boast before God through Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit.