Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cock-a-doodle-don't! Is timing everything or a-lot-a-thing?

Proverbs 27:14

Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice,
rising early in the morning,
will be counted as cursing.

Especially if by "neighbor" you mean my wife and by "early in the morning" you mean "before 8 AM (or more realistically 9 AM if her drothers could be had)."  I've learned from my bride that timing may not always be everything, but it is certainly a-lot-a-thing (Allie would be so proud I didn't say "alot"!).

Some things, though good, can be received poorly depending on the context in which they are given.  The Proverb is not saying that blessing your neighbor early in the morning really "is" a curse.  It is merely reporting the reality that your neighbor may "count" it as cursing.  It is important to know your audience, to know what is a curse and what is a blessing. Any perhaps a whisper would do better than a megaphone at 6 am.  Just a thought.  That's a freebie for ya.  No extra charge.

If you buy me an Amy Grant cd I will say "thank you" and know that you meant well.  If you buy me each and every Amy Grant album ever made I will count your blessing as a curse and wonder what I ever did to you.

Know your audience, know your limits, know the Truth, and know how to discern when and for what to be offended.  This Proverb is good advice for the early bird neighbor, but it is also great advice for us who are tempted to count as cursing the harmless joys of others because they don't mesh well with our preferences.  We are all too often too easily offended by that which is not really offensive. 

Always ask yourself, "Is it a sin issue?" or "Is it inherently foolish?"  If it is not sin or foolish, then the problem may be with you for having a problem with it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Thoughts from "Are You Righteous?" - by Tullian Tchividjian

I was recently perusing blogs on the Gospel Coalition website.  Among their contributors is Tullian Tchividjian (better known as Billy Graham's grandson and pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church where he took over for Dr. D. James Kennedy after he passed away recently).

This blog is about justification, imputed righteousness, and the grace of God in Jesus Christ.  If that is not up your alley, then you either do not know what those terms mean or you are not a Christian. 
The topic de jure for "Are You Righteous?" is the penetrating piercing of Jesus' "sermon on the mount." We are not as good as we think we are and the Law is patient in preaching this to us if we have been given ears to hear.

Behavior is all society and religion care about.  You do not have to do the right thing for the right reason as long as you don't do the wrong thing for any reason.

An excerpt from the blog says it this way,

"The law enforcement institutions of society are concerned with right behavior. They do not care why people obey the law, so long as they obey it. The person who breaks no laws is righteous in their sight regardless of the motivation that produces law abiding behavior."

Tullian expands on this idea when he says,

"The truth is that God isn’t concerned with any kind of obedience; he’s concerned with a certain kind of obedience. What motivates our obedience determines whether or not it is a sacrifice of praise. Doing the right thing with the wrong heart reveals deep unrighteousness, not devout righteousness. T.S. Eliot said it best, “The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.” (emphases added)

I adore Tullian because he is so on point when it comes to the Gospel of God in Jesus.  As such, I am basically quoting his entire post, but here is another fantastic synopsis of the dilemma we all face.

"External righteousness is something we can all achieve on our own with a little self-discipline and a lot of self-righteousness. But Jesus wants us to see that regardless of how well we think we’re doing or how righteous we think we’re becoming, when “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” becomes the standard and not “how much I’ve improved over the years”, we realize that we’re a lot worse than we fancy ourselves to be-that unrighteousness is inescapable, that 'even the best things we do have something in them to be pardoned.'"

Lastly, Tullian notes that Jesus died to kill this nagging feeling that we owe Him something in return for what He did for us and the constant struggle with our religious hearts to conjure up morale to do something for Him.  Not that we should not work out what God has worked in, but that we should recognize the balance of eternity does not rest on our ability to complete what Christ could not finish on His own or our ability to now pay off the debt of gratitude owed to Jesus for the debt He assumed on the Cross.  Jesus is not in the industry of purchasing other's debts to make a profit. 

He is not a grace lender. He is a grace Giver.

Tullian summarizes this by quoting someone else (another thing I love about finding faithful pastors is that they lead you to other faithful pastors from whom they glean their inspirations)

"In the cross, “God has stormed the last bastion of the self, the last presumption that you really were going to do something for him…He has died in your place! He has done it. He made it. It is all over, finished, between you and God! He died in your place that death which you must die; he has done it in such a way as to save you. He has borne the whole thing! The fact that there is nothing left for you to do is the death of self and the birth of the new creature” (Forde).

I know I have given you a lot of it, but all of it is soooo good.  Check it out.  I may have hit on some highlights, but the overall message is strung together beautifully as he weaves Biblical passages with quotes of famous dead people and real life experiences.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Book Review: "Pastor Dad" by Mark Driscoll

I recently downloaded and read this short book by Pastor Mark Driscoll. 

You can get it for FREE ---> HERE

If you are remotely familiar with Mark Driscoll and his teaching style and focus, this book will not provide much in the way of "new" information.  However, that information is helpfully condensed and concentrated into very short, poignant chapters.

If you have never heard of Mark Driscoll or only heard his name being bantered about among other Christians, this is a great introductory summation of his teachings on men, marriage, and ministry.  The chapters are very brief and readable.  This makes it a very encouraging and easy book to read for those who do not typically spend much time with their noses in books (i.e. most men).

I love being a dad.  I am humbled and excited that God has made me the personal pastor of my wife and children.  It is a weighty, glorious calling.  I am often overwhelmed by the magnitude of what there is to be taught.  There is so much I have yet to understand.  Yet, I am not paralyzed into inactivity, but motivated into energetic purpose in leading my family to know and love God.

Whether or not the door of opportunity ever opens a way to another audience with whom God grants me influence, I will always be husband and father to those given me by God.  I love pastoring my children.  It is a joy to dwell on methods, materials, and means by which I can communicate and prepare my children to know and love God and the Gospel of His Christ.  I love leading my wife and thinking of myself as her husband, friend, lover, leader, and pastor.  These are not tasks or offices to which I am called because I came in or expect anytime soon to be what is rightly referred to as "qualified."  It is not a matter of being a husband or father.  I AM those things. No one questions if I am a husband or father. All married men are husbands and all men with children are fathers.

The question that is most poignant and substantive will be answered best by my wife and children when I am lowered into the ground before them:

"Was I a good husband or father?"

There are good husbands and bad ones.  Good fathers and bad ones.  No married man can skip this section of their resume at the judgment.  No father can skip their duties as "does not apply." If you neglect these areas to focus on work, hobby, friends, sports, technology, etc... you will not be credited for the investment you made into them, but chastized for your neglect of your wife and children.  I hate the fact that I feel I have to plead with men to love their wives and children.  It drives me absolutely bonkers.  But I am there at that point reminded how easily my dark heart could be equally as apathetic. 

Thank you Jesus for granting me love and concern and responsibility for my wife and children.  May You ever refresh my commitment to them in my commitment to You.  May I never serve them to the exception of You, but by serving You, always serve them.  You are good to give me these desires, drives, and ambitions.  I am humbled that I do not struggle to want to be a good husband and dad. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Not a Hunger Game.

Proverbs 27:7

One who is full loathes honey,
but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.

Those that are satisfied are content to turn away even from sweet things like honey for they know that more of something good may turn the present sweetness sickly.

In contrast, those that are never satisfied and discontent are eager to fill their void and indulge even in things bitter and bad and call them "good" in a last ditch effort to find any semblance of satisfaction.

You've seen the woman starved for affection invite into her world the big bad wolf because she would rather hear a little flattery than a lot of nothing. She pretends the bitter wolf is sweet because she desires so desperately to eat something (anything).

If she were full, she would recognize the bitter herb for what it was. Because she is desperate, she distorts reality intentionally and places a veil (or rose-colored glasses as it were) over her own eyes.

My children, be full in the LORD.  In fullness and contentment there is vast protection from the trappings of this life that present themselves as beautiful, though they are rotten to the core (insert word of the day "meretricious" here).  Only in the satisfaction of being filled by the Spirit can you resist the pitfalls of over-indulgence in the sweet things and the avoidance of the bitter rest of it your peers will choke down because they are famished.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thoughts from "The Double-Reach of Self-Righteousness" by Tullian Tchividjian

Read the full blog HERE.

Tullian points out,

"the thing that gets in the way of our love for God and a deep appreciation of his grace is not so much our unrighteous badness but our self-righteous goodness."

He goes on to say,

"...it’s always the immoral person that gets the Gospel before the moral person. It’s the prostitute who understands grace; it’s the Pharisee who doesn’t. It’s the unrighteous younger brother who gets it before the self-righteous older brother.

There is, however, another side to self-righteousness that younger-brother types need to be careful of. There’s an equally dangerous form of self-righteousness that plagues the unconventional, the liberal, and the non-religious types. We “authentic”, anti-legalists can become just as guilty of legalism in the opposite direction. What do I mean?

It’s simple: we become self-righteous against those who are self-righteous. Many younger evangelicals today are reacting to their parents’ conservative, buttoned-down, rule-keeping flavor of “older brother religion” with a type of liberal, untucked, rule-breaking flavor of “younger brother irreligion” which screams, “That’s right, I know I don’t have it all together and you think you do; I know I’m not good and you think you are. That makes me better than you.”

See the irony?

In other words, they’re proud that they’re not self-righteous! Hmmm…"

He concludes,

"So the question is not whether you are self-righteous, but rather, in which direction does your self-righteousness lean? ...Thankfully, while our self-righteousness reaches far, God’s grace reaches farther. And the good news is, that it reaches in both directions!"

I, again, have reprinted a good portion of this blog post for you, but eagerly encourage you to hit the link above and read it in its entirity to capture the full weight of the appeal being made  Hopefully this taste has whetted your appetite for the full meal.. Tullian has a profound gift for preaching the Gospel's power to release us, free us, forgive us, and empower us to honor God with our lives..

The love of God in the Gospel inspires reciprocal love which ends in devotion and displays of grand romantical gesture.  Attempting to love Him only by the Law often provokes jealousy, pride, and boastful works on which confidence is claimed apart from Christ -- whether in pridefully declaring that "no one's perfect" as a backhanded confidence in one's sinfulness or by pridefully declaring that "no one else is perfect" as a ignorant confidence in one's sinlessness.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Going without without Christ

In My Utmost for His Highest this morning I read the following words:

"God never tells us to give up things just for the sake of giving them up, but He tells us to give them up for the sake of the only thing worth having, namely, life with Himself."

I used to have the distorted notion that my going without was of some inherent value (regardless of the motivation and application of my foregoing the thing), as though me not having something was a benefit to you (and by you and mean y'all).

The person who counts their life as nothing, but also does not count Christ as everything has merely thrown their life away.  Paul tells of scenarios where a person could be burnt at the stake or impoverished of basic necessities both without love and without God's blessing upon them.  You can sell all that you have and martyr yourself for the wrong reasons or with the wrong motivations apparently and that is not something to which our thoughts often gravitate.  We typically reward the foregoing as virtuous without requiring its end to be virtuous.

God's "love tank" (a la Love in 5 Languages) is never on "E."  He does not NEED  your love, your stuff, your anything.  He gives you everything you could ever give to Him.  He desires your love, sacrifice, devotion, and self-denial as acts of genuine, cheerful worship. 

Your religious exercises,  your "if you only come through for me this time Lord I will never _____ again(s)," your attempts to impress men (including yourself) are more often than not merely mirages (check me and my alliteration machine out).  You usually give things up to get something else, not Someone else.   You seek to find yourself by giving up other things rather than seeking to know God by casting off that which He commands.  We often give up more than He asks in our efforts to earn favor before Him and then hold too tightly to that from which He clearly has commanded us to abstain. 

You going without is of no value to me (or God).  Neither of us care really if you went the last 2 years without eating chocolate.  It is sort of interesting, I guess.  Perhaps good conversations filler.  I am fascinated in a way by giving stuff up.  It is going against the grain to deny yourself in a culture of hedonism, but aeceticism is really just self-indulgent exercise of self control in some ways.  Whether the emphasis is on controlling or liberating one's self, the giving or getting is not about God, but about some isolated self-exalted self.

We should give things up because God in Christ gave His all.  We get the order wrong . We give up things to get God.  We need to get that God gave up Jesus for us, first loved us, was generous with us.  In response to this lavish goodness and grace in giving generosity, we respond by following Him diligently and giving up our rights, money, time, and lives to Him.  Love begets love.  Giving begets giving.

May you dwell richly in His love for you in Christ that in response you gladly give up all He demands and freely enjoy that which for you He has provided.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Thoughts from Ryan Seiler's "Into the Wind"

Check out videos on his Youtube channel HERE.

I recently purchased this album off of iTunes for my wife for Mother's Day.  She really enjoys Ryan Seiler's contributions to
Anthem.  As I was listening to the album, I found many songs that inspired, encouraged and excited me.  I love a good album and "Into the Wind" is good from first to last.

Here are just a few highlights of which I have taken note (some including the Biblical verses from which the song either draws directly or references indirectly).

“To See This”

Luke 2:34 34

And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed..."

"And We Sing"

Jeremiah 6:14

14 They have healed the wound of my people lightly,

    saying, ‘Peace, peace’,
     when there is no peace.

"Don't Leave"


"We all agreed that this wouldn't be easy....
Don't make me choose between you and what we're fighting for
we all will lose if we give up and our efforts fall short.
I know it's been such a long time since we've just been friends
and not soldiers on the front line of a war."

"Cannonball Coming"


"There's no turning back; and we can't linger in the past. 
There's no turning back.  There's little in this life that last. 
And I won't take this all for granted 'cause 'this too shall pass.'
Time turns seasons into glances so let's raise a glass
to God, to friends: I hope I see you again."

Ryan Seiler is a very talented musician and songwriter.  Please visit one of the links above if you have not yet had the opportunity to hear any of his contributions.

Friday, July 20, 2012


2 Corinthians 10:17-18

17 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

The only bragging that counts is that done on your behalf.  God asks us to brag about Him.  Our chief end is tp give Him the glory and finding Him bragging about us. 

The scandal of it all.  God bragging about us?  God cherishing us?  How ridiculous!  How unsophisticated of Him.  It's a bit offensive to my good sense really.  He should not gush over us.  He's God in Heaven.  I am here on earth.  I sin.  He is perfect.

If not for Jesus and His cross, God would not, could not, and should not (just like green eggs and ham) boast about us.

Because God rejoices over Jesus and gives Him all of the glory and worship and praise, He does so over us when we are found in Him and Him in us.  The wisdom of God is in Christ and His plan of salvation accomplished by, through, from, to, and for Him.

God sees me as He sees Jesus: as perfect.  That is scandalous and I blush at it.  I resist it.  I struggle to protect God from shaming Himself by investing so much in me.  But it is not about me.  It is about the One in whom I am seen and it would be wrong for God to make less of Jesus by not boasting about me, the fruit of Jesus' hard labors, faith and obedience.

Because He boasts of us, how can we not boast of Him?  He who made the stars, the oceans, the human heart, the sunrise and holds them all in His hands in Christ does sing over us and allow us to wear white while ruling alongside Him.  How can we who have been given so much boast of anything less?


The one who commends himself is NOT approved.  Do not seek to justify yourself.  You cannot.  You can seek it, but you cannot reach it.  You can aspire toward it, but you cannot realize it.  It is vain glory, pride or despair.  Call it by any name your idol factory of a heart can create.  If it is not faith in the finished work of Christ and Him as your only boast, it is a vapor, refuse, and filthy rags.

There are some truths that are only worth as much as the power and authority of the one saying them can enforce them.  God alone can say "forgiven" and make it so.  God alone can say "worthy" and seal it.  We boast of so much that is so less than God's endorsement. 

We often strive tirelessly to impress people we don't like to earn praise we don't deserve to hear flattery they don't mean while refusing to rest or "settle for" (what a vulgar word given the context) the endorsement and approval of God in Christ.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

2 ways NOT to give

2 Corinthians 9:7

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Observation: God loves a cheerful giver. 
Problem: Don't like to give?
Solution: Don't be cheerful.

God likes only cheerful givers.  He would never ask you to do something you didn't want to do, right?


God commands you to do all sorts of things you would not naturally desire to do.  And thank God for it.  His ways are not our ways and His thoughgts not our thoughts.  But God does not simply tell you to do something without providing you a new heart by which to obey His commands. He gives what He commands. God may command you to give, but He delights in one who does so cheerfully.

If you don't give, it is likely because you simply don't want to.  You shouldn't have to be coerced into giving by worldly guilt, or worse guilt in the variety of Law-Gospel-Law (specifically the 5th paragraph beginning with "but something..." although the whole article is worth your time and meditation).  If you don't want to give, don't.  Maybe you don't have a new heart.  Maybe you're not regenerate or reborn.

Maybe? It is a possibility, isn't it?

Or you are a reborn, regenerated Christian who is struggling with the old man who still loves storing up in bigger barns and has yet fully to be broken into submission to Christ's call to generosity. But if you are a Christian, then wrestle with the old man - for Christ's and your own sake! Don't just let the old man lead you in this area.  Don't rest in the assumptive, seductive draw of "someday." 

Someday I will give more. 
Someday I will do then what I know I am commanded to do now. 

As long as "someday" remains an IOU to excuse present rebellion, "someday" will never come.  You don't want it to. 

Quality time is bred from quantity time. You cannot plan quality time.  In the same way, perhaps cheerful giving is bred from thanfulness for what one has.  You cannot plan on being cheerful about something difficult and pull it off honestly anymore than you can orchestrate quality time next Tuesday at 2 pm.  It happens, unexpectedly, as a result of diligence and duty.  Not merely plodding along in drudgery per se, but obediently performing the task that lay at hand if for no other reason than (1) "it lay at hand" and (2) you can do it. 

Ask that God would give you a new heart to enjoy giving, seek opportunities to give, and be cheerful throughout the whole ordeal.

Decide in your heart what you will give. 
If you have never done this, do this! 
There is no mystery as to what Scripture is commanding you to do here. 

The seeds of generosity are planted by gratitude and grow up to produce fruit in keeping with grace. Grace begets grace.  It initiates the process and produces in its object that which it bestowed at the onset.

God loves when people love Him and from that compulsion give.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Social Mediocre

That is about right.  I am a passionate guy when it comes to doctrine and the historical, orthodox, Christian faith.  So it goes without saying that perusing "Christian" blogs periodically on the internet drives.me.bonkers!!!

I am wrong often as well and I pray you forgive me for that.  I get zealous and speak in hyperbole for emphasis when my heart really isn't behind the weight of adrenaline pumping through my tongue (or my fingers speaking on behalf of my tongue on this blog).

Point being this however: someone on the internet IS actually wrong.  If you have been online any amount of time, you know that the there is a site or blog for every opinion imaginable.  And while you may be entitled to your opnion and you may be sincere, that does not equate to a currency of truthfulness or reality by necessity.  You can be sincere AND wrong.  Genuineness is not the ultimate arbiter.  It is appreciated and virtuous, but not a trump card. 

Be discerning young Christian as to whom you allow a passport to your soul in allowing another's thoughts to visit your mind.  We should be sharpened and deepened by others.  We are not islands.  Be discerning however.  "Bad company ruins good morals."

Some of those claiming to be light are all heat.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

OCCUPY: Proverbs

Proverbs 24:33-34

33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
34 and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man.

This is a repeated theme, worded verbatim in Proverbs 6:10-11

It is always easier to hit snooze than it is to get up right away.  It is always harder to get up once you've set yourself down to relax.

God designed our bodies.  We actually NEED sleep.  To refuse to sleep and stay up working and toiling because we have so much to do is to defy God's design for who you are.  It is not godly to stay up all night per se.  It can be if you do so praying or assisting in a time of crisis, etc...  But on a regular day - one not governed by the exception, but the rule - sleep is necessary.  It is wise to go to bed early if you have to be up early.  It is foolish to stay up late because you have "so much to do."  Because you have so much to do, you should rest and allow your body and mind to refresh and recharge to tackle the tasks that lay ahead of you. 

I know, I know. You're a night person, right?  I do not deny that there is something exhilirating about freely staying up later than normal.  It can be really fun.  And I am not even saying it is wrong or sinful to stay up late (sometimes).  It can be, however, if you completely live in defiance of how you were created and the One who created it that way.  Furthermoe, we're all "night" people.  We all love wasting time on stuff we like and putting off that which is imposing until tomorrow.  Most of our "night" activities are nothing more than quadrant 4 activities.  It would be different, in some regard, if one was diligently burning the midnight oil rather than burning off steam.

We defy Jesus' teaching of not worrying about tomorrow in making today's troubles tomorrow's by putting them off today.  Say that five times fast! We often would not have to worry about tomorrow if we did today what we ought to have done.

Sleep easy Christian.  Jesus is our rest

Work hard Christian.  Jesus wants your neighbor to see your labors.


Jesus calls disciples to empty themselves, not store up things outside of themselves in barns.  We read the parable of the man and his bigger barns and think it alien and unlikely.  But "barns" is just another word for what we call "closets" - and who doesn't love a big Master closet? 

"Yeah baby! I want to be the master and commander of by big ol' closet." 

Did you know some people actually build houses for their cars? 

"Yeah, they're called garages." 


Poverty comes quickly upon those who want.  Rest comes gently to those who work.

Ecclesiastes 5:12

12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich, their abundance
permits them no sleep.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Review: Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp

Buy it HERE.

At my church we have a ministry called D6 after Deuteronomy Chapter 6 where parents are instructed to teach their children about Yahweh whenever the opportunity presents.

This past semester we went through this book. One of the most central tenants of the book is that children are not born neutral.  They are sinners and need guidance, instruction, and most importantly the Gospel of grace in Jesus Christ.

The book is extremely helpful and practical in applying very specific information and strategies for very specific ages and developmental stages of a child's life.  It is a huge undertaking, but one I am excited to employ in concert with prayer routinely for patience, diligence, and forgiveness in its administration..

The book takes a very biblical approach and worldview regarding rearing, nurturing, disciplining, cherishing, and raising our children. 

Most pressing however is the need for the parent to apply the same message to their own soul in keeping Christ the center of all we do and attempt to do and hope to do someday.  It is so easy and such a poignant reflection of our fallness that we examine and study with dligence the best methods to raise and train someone else to love and worship Jesus and to become all of things we wish we were, but are not.  These same principles upon which we marvel are the same we should be applying to ourselves and God as a good Father is faithful to apply to us.  As parents, we have not escaped the need for a Father.

I recommend it particularly for families with young children or families hoping to someday have children.  It provides a crucial framework that is much easier implemented on the front end than backfilled later.  God's grace is sufficient to compensate for all of our failures and oversights whether we are prepared or become Christians late in the game after our children have already learned our bad parenting habits.  His grace also covers parents who are Christian from the beginning and yet fall short of God's glory in their application of His Word.  Either way, this book challenges the parent to return to a Biblical understanding of your parental role, your children, your soul, and your deepest need.

There is advice on teaching your children to know themselves as the person God has created, to know their God, and to know their neighbor.  In understanding these through a Biblical worldview, we will appreciate and worship Jesus all the more.

The book mentions, comes back to, and points to the Gospel throughout.  The best news in the world is the Good News of Jesus Christ.  This book provides ample advice on how to prepare the soul of your child to embrace, understand, apply, and appreciate this Good News.


My children,

Please know that much thought, prayer, planning, thinking, and practicing of these principles went into raising you to know and love Jesus Christ.  May you thank God for your mother and me and our feeble attempts to show you the majesty of Jesus.  May you forgive us our faults and thank God for our weakness in showing you the power of God in the Gospel of His Christ alone!  The LORD disciplines those He loves and corrects those He receives.  Your mom and I have disciplined you and trained you and guided you because of our great love and passion for you as persons whom God has given us to steward.

Hebrews 12:5-11

5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Rocket Summer's "Walls"

I was listening to this song on my iPod while working and was struck in particular by the post-chorus:

And all the weight you carry
Will disappear and I will willingly
Embrace your so
You lay your head
So come on home
Come on home
Come on home

It reminded me of images of Christian in Pilgrim's Progress shedding that awful weight and burden that he carried prior to God meeting Him with the Good News of Jesus Christ!  It also reminds me that the Good News is not just for the day you are found by the One willing to take on your heavy load and burden, but everyday being found in the One willing to carry you. 

Listen to the song HERE.

Buy it HERE.

I'll help you break the walls down
I'll help you break the walls down
And bust you out and take you home
Believe in Me (i.e. Jesus) you are not alone
I'll help you break the walls down

The implied Gospel is useful in the arts to point us homeward, but without the proclaiming of the actual, explicit Gospel, it remains simply an arrow without a target.
The weight we carry will disappear only inasmuch as it is transferred to Christ.  He takes our burdens and becomes the weary, weighted down that we might become the easily yoked and freed.
That is the reality and Truth to which this song points.  No neutered, greeting-card, simply silver-lined, sentimental, platitudes.  This is not feel-good.  This is declared good by God, not because you are, but because He is and will be your righteousness by faith in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

It's as easy as 1... 2... 3 (if by that you mean work... field... house)

Proverbs 24:27

Prepare your work outside;
get everything ready for yourself in the field,
and after that build your house.

All young men should consider whether they want to get married at some point.  All young men should consider the right and Biblical way to pursue that desire.

You are to prepare your work outside prior to building your house.

In other words, do not drag some poor young lady into your life until you have figured out where you are going.

She will be asked to submit to you, to follow you, to honor you, and to respect you.  The Bible makes it clear that these are her godly orientations toward you.  Do her and yourself the favor of figuring out where you'd like to go, what you'd like to do, and how you'd like to do it.  Too many Christian men think with their hormones and seek to get married because of what they are hoping to experience inside it.  First of all, kudos to you hypothetical Christian boy for waiting until marriage to "be married."  But secondly, marriage is much more than the physical expression of it.  It is a fruit of it, but not the foundation of it.

Get everything ready for yourself in the field before you build your house. 

Before you start a household, think about how the Bible informs your ideal house.  Ponder these things and have them available for conversation with the young lady upon whom you set your affections.  Do yourself the favor of discussing these with her at the appropriate time in your relational timeline.  Not so late that you are already yoked to her in a way that would create great pain to seperate, but not so early that you make the first date a hypothetical promise ring.

In your reading of Scripture what should a home look like?  How many children would you like?  How soon into marriage would you like kids?  Where do you want to live?  How do you want to support your wife and children financially, spiritually, emotionally, physically?  Who will raise the kids?  Will your wife work?  What will be taught?  What will be expected?  What traditions will be upheld? What traditions abandoned?  What traditions begun? 

Ponder these things.  Study them out.  Then resist the temptation to yoke yourself too soon to someone with whom these have not been discussed.  Much of this is adiaphora.  It is not a matter of sin.  It is a matter of preference.  You will save yourself many trials and pains in finding someone who finds the same foundations in Scripture upon which you desire to build.  In this, you have the security of relying on the other's devotion to God and His Word rather than their opinion at the moment (or what they think is least confrontational and most agreeable to you at the moment of inquiry).

Lastly, a young man should pursue a woman without delegating to her the weight of the risk.  Ask a woman to marry you.  Do not ask a woman what she would say if you happened to ask her to marry you?  Respect her enough to ask her for her hand only once you're ready to take it, guide it, cherish it, and covenantally bind yourself to it.  Do not run mock engagements to get a better feel for the real trials and triumphs of marriage.  Do not have a dress rehearsal.  Be a man.  Nut up.  Cast off cowardice and ask her to marry you if that is what you are wanting to do. 

I heard Mark Driscoll once say, "a man MUST choose what and who he loves; then he MUST love his choice."

By asking her what she would say if you happened to maybe propose someday you only bait the line with a promise you have not yet committed to keeping.

***Note I have placed the label adiaphora on this post.  While I feel strongly that there is good Biblical wisdom and evidence to suggest that these views are fully supported, I do recognize that on some points, my preferences may be pushing my pen.   Some of thise advice could be ignored without the ignoring party having done so sinfully or for sinful reasons.  We all often choose lesser hills than Calvary on which to die.  There are some hills on which it is worthy to die and in lieu of surrendering all grounds on the basis that it may not be the right ground, I seek to be humbled and taught by God in His Word and through His teachers to know the difference between mole hills and high ground.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Book Review : "The Stranger" by Albert Camus

In speaking with my pastor recently he mentioned that on the Gospel Coalition blog, a segment was starting where Christians were going to read the classics.  It began with this book.

Read the introductory blog HERE and the full synopsis HERE.

Buy the book HERE.

I checked out the audiobook from our library and listened to it on the way to and home from work on my morning/evening commutes.  The audiobook was only roughly 3 1/2 hours and the book itself is only roughly 130 pages.

This fiction novel is a very unusual read.  The main character, Meursault is seemingly void the normative sociological/psychological constructs which formulate and define typical human experience. 

The book is divided into two parts.  The first part introduces us to the main character and shows us the world through his eyes and communicates the basic premises of the worldview espoused by the author, Camus.  Meursault does many normal things, but it's the way or the manner in which he engages in them which is most jarring or disjointed so to speak.  He is detached from the details and experiences with which you would expect a person to be engaged and conversely engaged in details about which most of us normally think very little.

The second part is the trial of Meursault.  Oh yeah, did I forget to mention in the first part he kills a man.  I bring it up in this casual fashion because it is nearly that random and casually committed by Meursault and reported by Camus.  It is almost incidental.  That is the cadence you can expect in reading this book.  The trial does not focus on his having killed the man as that is not a point of contention.  It is conceded.  The trial, rather, focuses on the type of person he was and is now as a result of the murder.  The lack of remorse, the casual manner in which life and death were/are treated, the resistance to meaning, etc... 

It is an interesting book for Christians to read in that it portrays a worldview often not assumed by most Christians.  When we picture a man who attaches no regular or spectacular meaning to anything, we aassume the result would be a hatred of life and likelihood of suicidal tendencies.  However, Meursault (via Camus) bucks this trend by stating the only way to truly enjoy life and live with zeal is when one abandons a search for meaning.  In Camus' worldview, the search for meaning oppresses life and thriving.  It is only when Meursault abandons fully and finally all attempts of hope and meaning that he is truly free to live life.  Most of us assume this final abandonment of hope and meaning would lead to helplessness and suicidal tendencies.  I found this an insightful peek into a humanistic vantage point and a much better apologetic for worldliness than is often espoused or at least assumed by Christians in dealing with their counterparts.

Camus' depiction of Christianity (or at least the messengers thereof introduced in this novel) seem as though they would be quite satisfied to merely hear him utter the words or ascent to their assertions.  This is probably more accurate in its assessment of the contemporary church's approach than we would like to admit.  Saying the sinner's prayer, walking that aisle, standing up at that retreat, etc... are all often seen as a Christian finish line of responsibility of sorts (both for the teller and the hearer).  Discipleship is often disregarded and we settle for winning a mental arm-wrestling contest.  It is sad to see Christianity so caricatured (especially when the bite of realizing it is more accurate than we desire to believe).

I obviously do not prescribe to the worldview portrayed in this novel, but give kudos to Camus for articulating it well and choosing the right medium by which to tell the tale.  Art is such a potent medium and can so deeply affect the observer.   Art can carry a message in a particularly gifted way.  Many Christians have taken advantage of this by putting into story tenets of the Christian faith (a la Chronicles of Narnia and the Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis or Pilgrim's Progress by Bunyan).  It does concern me to ponder on how many have been artistically influenced and persuaded toward life in the essence of Camus' Muersault however.

It is worth the read and I would check out the audiobook if you have the chance.  It is a well done production of the book.  I listened to it twice.  I am now actually reading the copy which arrived from Amazon to put eyes on the words I have now heard twice (plus it gives me the chance to make notes and underline stuff that has stood out to me).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

To the future men over whom I have been made father

Proverbs 24:21

My son, fear the LORD and the king,
and do not join with those who do otherwise

The book of Proverbs is a book written from a father to his son. That is not to discount its value for daughters, but its primary, intended audience was a son to whom great responsibilities would be inherited upon the passing of their father.  So in keeping with that them...

Dear sons,

You inherit that which your sister never could.  You will become men whereas she will blossom into a woman.  Hers is the noble and godly office of woman.  To you it has been assigned the role of men.  Yours will be the task of sweat, stress, labor, and the responsibility to provide.  You are the image and glory of God.  In you He has placed much hope.  Your power and strength are for protection, standing firm, and provision.  By your hands, creativity and intelligence, others may have their prayers answered.  Do not bully.  Do not use your wisdom, strength, and position for mere self-promotion.  You are to serve.  You are to lay down your own interests for the sake of others.  You will never find sustained satisfaction in the pursuit of self.  The depths of a soul are great and you will get lost in yours as Narcissus drown in the waters of his own reflection.  Do not gaze into yourself for hope and discernment.  Call out to God to grant you eyes to see that help which is outside of you.  May you see who God is, have humility to understand who you are, and in confidence live in knowing who Christ is, and was, and will forever be.

I love you my sons. May you be bold, courageous, strong, wise, and compassionate, meek, and full of service and good works.  Be men.  Act like men.  Resolve yourself now to the reality of all women and children entering the boats of safety prior to your inclusion.  Resolve yourself now to hard work and labor to provide food and shelter to those over whom the LORD gives you authority and responsibility.  Resolve yourself now to faith in Christ alone.  May your heart be constantly granted mercy for its shortcomings and enlightenment and sensitivity to repent of the religion and the indulgence into which we all are often tempted and fall. 

You are men.  You have no choice in that matter.  It was determined for you.  May you embrace it and be informed Biblically about how to literally flesh it out.  You are my sons.  I love you.  Speak kind words to those under your wing.  Do not seek respect, but always seek to live respectfully.  Do not seek justice for yourself, but always seek justice for others.  Do not inist on your rights, but make it your mission to defend and honor that which is right.  Take the bullet.  Carry the cross.  Repent of self.  Embrace Jesus by faith.

Follow me inasmuch as I follow Jesus.  Honor me as your father because the LORD has asked you to do so.  I will fail you and sin against you.  By grace, I pray I will be forgiven by God and you for my sin..

With much love and hope,

Your father,


Monday, July 9, 2012

By His Poverty...

2 Corinthians 8:9

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.

In what currency was Jesus Christ rich?  Does He own the cattle on a 1,000 hills?  Yep.  But is that what Paul means here?  Nope.

If that were the case, you would interpret this verse as saying.  Jesus had a lot of money and possessions, but He gave those up so that you could have a lot of money and possessions.  That isn't right, is it?  Is financial freedom the fruit for which we should look to validate "real" discipleship?  Certainly not.

So what did Jesus give up that we might gain?  Intimacy with God.  Jesus lived forever in the presence of God the Father.  Yet, He came down to earth and left that privileged place of relationship in order to walk the mean streets of earth.  Why?  So that by His poverty we might become rich in intimacy with God. 

We were distanced from God by our sin.  Jesus was close to God because of His holiness.  Jesus came down from intimacy to grant intimacy to those far away.  He became our plight that we might inherit His privilege.

Quid pro quo.  This for that.  This weight of sin for that righteousness.  Praise God!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Thoughts from "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus"

The video that launched a million views and responses.

I wonder why so many Christians find this difficult to comprehend.  Why do so many not like it?  If it is preference or style: I  understand.  I don't much care for contemporary country music.  I don't like the style.  If there was a worship song written that was doctrinally sound, but in the contemporary country style, I may not care for it much.  Is that the issue with most though?  The medium, not the message?

I worry that too many Christians actually fail to see themselves as sinful because they pursue the Law with all the heart, mind, and spirit.  It is easy to cheer Jesus on when He is going after child molestors and kidnappers.  But many of those same people would take issue with Him firing away at good people, full of self-righteousness.  Jesus hates good people. So much so He died for their "goodness." Bad people did not kill Jesus.  "Good" people did.  Good people do not repent and do not want grace because they are so rarely told they need either of them.  They don't want a hand out, they want a hand up.

Religion is good people trying to get better.  Religion relies on good advice and despises the Good News.

I can see where the language and semantics of what is said in this video could be disliked.  Like all things true and poignant, they are capable of being distorted.   Like all things true and powerful, they can offend or set free.

The Gospel is a message of grace and if preached properly ends in the response of "What shall we say then? Shall we sin that grace may abound?"  If people are not provoked to think or speak those sentiments, the Gospel has not been preached in its fullness.

I also hate religion.  It kept me in bondage to self-righteousness and a vascillating cycle of pride and despair for years.  Pride when I did what I knew I should.  Despair when I fell short.  "No fear, I will try harder next time".  I would aim high and fall short.   I was proud of my accomplishments and ashamed of my failures.  I knew God would love me if I could do it better next time because there were always periods of failure.   I would try my hardest.  I still could not do it.  But I believed that my trying my hardest is what made me lovable.  I would fail and in despair not try at all.  In fact, I would fall like a champ.  Like I loved it.  My only comfort was knowing that I would at some point regain the guilt enough to stop falling and begin trying to stand all over again, but this time I would try even harder, stand longer, and not fall again.  And so on and so forth and so on for the majority of my life.  That is why I hate religion.  I hate it and I hate who I was when I was in it and I hate that I was so hard in hearing and so long in seeing that it was not about me and my righteousness, but only that which could be given me by grace in Christ's work. 

I was right about one thing:  Work is required to earn God's favor.  I was wrong to assume I could earn it. 

Jesus acccomplished my righteousness in a perfect life and paid in full my debt by a sinless death.  He lives as my priest before God, behind the veil, ministering and pleading a case for me, going where I could not go, earning what I could not earn, giving what I did not have, grasping what I could not reach; not because of me or what I had done (good or bad), but on the appeal of His merit before God.  My hope is not my religion or my righteousness, but my God.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

No one. The answer is, "No one!"

Proverbs 20:9

Who can say, “I have made my heart pure;
I am clean from my sin”?

Without blushing or lying, no one can say these proverbial words.  Solomon offers a rhetorical statement that is designed to point us to God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.

It's like asking, "Were you there when the world was created?"  The answer is implied.

Solomon wisely notes several things:

(1) Our hearts are not naturally pure (or else no need to make it so)
(2) It is desirable to have a pure heart (or else why the effort?)
(3) No man can make their heart pure

Two immutable facts come forth:  We are not pure and we know we should be.  So we strive and strive and try and try.  But who has ever accomplished this feat?  No one.  No man has ever accomplished the reconciliation of his own heart even to his own standards, let alone those loftier ones commanded by God Himself.

You know there is a right and a wrong.  It is intuitive to you.  You also know that you have failed to uphold those same right and wrongs to which you so ardently adhere.  You know the standards and you know you fail to meet those same standards.  It is a blessed perdicament to have unveiled to your soul.  In this tension and despair one wishes for something like Good News to set free the fetters of conscience.

Do you wish for a way out?  Do you hope for a hope?  Is the state of your soul such as bearing daily the torments and anguish of fearfully facing a God whom you know, if He is just, will not find you faultless?

The Gospel is the grace of God both in revealing to you the Bad News enough to inspire your desperate plea for a rescuer and the Good News that the Rescuer has already come!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Physical and the Spiritual ~ and on an unrelated note: Happy Birthday USA!

Proverbs 20:30

Blows that wound cleanse away evil;
strokes make clean the innermost parts.

It is interesting to see how closely the physical is related to the spiritual.  That is not to say that the spiritual is physical.  It isn't. We are souls in bodies.

C.S. Lewis said (or did he?) that "...we do not have souls, we are souls.  We have bodies." 

That may or may not be true.  But it does pique one's thoughts and awe of both.  We are soulish and we are body(ish?).  It is interesting how this Proverb relates the body to the soul.

In a body is where God has placed us for now.  We are not disembodied spirits haunting our homes and cars and jobs.  We are souls in bodies. And the substance that rightly constitutes "we" may be rightly called "soul" in essence, but that essence will need a body to operate in a material world.  Not the kind of material which makes up Madonna's world, but God's.)

Eden was a real place - not an ethereal vunderland of floating enchantment. Adam was made from the dirt of the earth and was bound by space, time, and his body.  This limitation was not "less than ideal," but "very good."  Heaven is not awesome because we escape our bodies, but because we are restored to communion with God in full.  Our bodies are not the reason we are far from God.   It is because of sin that a great gulf exists between Him and us.  And even then, when fully restored, His holiness is something He possesses by nature and itself defines Him as "other than" us. 

When we die our souls experience the trauma of being disembodied.  We are ripped from our flesh, but thank God for it.  Can you imagine being trapped in a body that no longer vibrates with life?  A body that cannot see, hear, taste, touch, move, etc..  Furthermore, it is buried out of sight and piled under dirt, burned into bits, or set adrift at sea.  What a miserable, all together traumatizing future if we were left in our bodies after they had died.  Some now live in this tortuous state awaiting death as they lay in beds alive as a result of foreign machinery.  I cannot imagine (rather I refuse to allow myself to imagine) the horror of being what is rightly called "alive," yet being so utterly deprived of the capacities to live.  For them, praise God that earthly death will resolve these limitations not in separating them eternally from a body, but eventually resurrecting them to a perfect body in which the deprivations of this current, impotent life will be replaced with the infinite possibilities of a perfect life in Christ.

Praise God we are with Him when we die UNTIL we are resurrected in our new bodies.  Yes, we get bodies back.  What the whut?  Yep, eternity is not freedom from our flesh (the physical body) but from the flesh (our inward orientation and barometer for calibrating the good, the desirable, and the worthy). Our ultimate destiny is very physical.  We have bodies, there is land, we eat, we stand up, we kneel, we sing, etc...

What a wonderful creation our bodies are and praise God that one day we will live in perfected bodies with glorified souls no longer to sin or to be sinned against.

Until then, however, God spanks us - for our good.  What we experience in the physical realm can clean the innermost parts in that the spank we receive may literally assist us in changing and renewing our minds toward the evil intention interrupted by divine intercession. 

Our bodies are our helpers.  They have often become our masters. 

God, in His mercy, however can use our bodies to minister to our souls in the form of physical discipline.

As a dad, I do not spank my children because I like to or because it is my first instinct to do so, but because the Bible commands me to and makes it a hopeful opportunity to trust in God to produce something much deeper than a sting in the rump - something I could not produce through harsh words, bullying, or apathetic un-involvement.  I pray that the spank would do what the Bible promises in ministering and shepherding the hearts of my children to obedience in love and reverence for Christ.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Thoughts from "Is God Calling You to Be a Pastor?"

I was perusing the Gospel Coalition blog the other day when I came across this interview and book preview.

Listen to it HERE.

I am only recently discovering the courage and grace to understand that perhaps I am called to this high calling and that in my heart of hearts I aspire to it.

I am praying that God opens opportunities through His gifts He has left me in His train.

Monday, July 2, 2012

On Whom and in what do you trust?

I read in My Utmost for His Highest this morning the following words...

"No matter what changes God has performed in you, never rely on them. Build only on a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and on the Spirit He gives."

The Gospel is not about you.  It is about Jesus.  Do not have faith in what you have overcome or who you are now in Christ.  Have faith in the One who performed the changes.  Do not place confidence in the flesh that the Spirit has purchased.  Place trust in the Spirit's testimony of Jesus.

The Gospel urges you to forsake your former ways and abandon all hope of saving yourself.  Do not in believing this then rely and trust in the flesh to carry you through that which the flesh could not produce for you in the first place. 

Galatians 3:3

Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?