Friday, November 30, 2012

err freshener?: a candid discourse on the crap we often call "Christian"

Q: What is worse than the smell of someone else’s poop?
A: The smell of someone else’s poop mixed with spray-can potpourri.

Have you ever walked into a restroom that is saturated with the intoxicating fumes of “clean linen” mingled with crap? It is particularly difficult when the intensity of the clean linen is dense enough to actually inhale. It’s almost as if I am supposed to respond by saying, “Ok. I get it. You didn’t poop in here.”

Does that make the smell of crap better?
Not really.

It merely creates a new horrible smell.
Now it doesn’t smell like crap anymore.
It smells like carnation covered crap.

No one is fooled though.

If you replace only one chocolate chip with a rabbit turd and bake a batch of cookies, I will not be hedging my bets on getting one of the non-contaminated cookies.


I would rather have no cookies than the possibility of eating a crap cake.


Isaiah 64:6

6 All of us have become like something unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like a polluted [menstrual] garment;
all of us wither like a leaf,
and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.


Philippians 3:8

8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ

We go to so much effort to cover up that of which we are ashamed. The only reason I fill up the restroom with a cloud that rivals a fumigation tent is to make less offensive that which I know clearly is. It is not that I imagine someone walking in will actually be convinced that nothing offensive went on in here. It is not an ignorance of offense, but rather a heightened awareness of it. Clean-line spray is like crap highlighter. Spraying cover-up is not pretending your crap doesn’t stink, it is a confession of knowing it beyond dispute. 

That is the point: We know.
We know it is wrong.
That is why we lie.
That is why we pretend.
That is why we cover-up.

Your sin smells bad.
But that is not what the verses above reveal.
We already know that.
We know our sin is stinky.

The verses above reveal that our goodness is also stinky before God. We will admit that no one is perfect readily enough, but that is not an admission or confession of guilt, but rather an intention to excuse it. We agree that we fall short in many and various ways; but we still believe we are good people going to a better place because we are better than most.

FYI – statistically everybody cannot be better than most.

At the very least, you are likely somewhere in the middle and just as many people are better than you than are worse. That said, all people less than 100% are under-qualified to enter Heaven without an Escort.

We know that our sin creates a debt that needs to be paid off. We usually try to do this ourselves. We are surprised to find out that God considers even our very best to be only that which accuses us before Him as well. Even our righteous deeds and best efforts store up wrath for ourselves.

Your best is potpourri covered garbage and potpourri scented garbage is still garbage.
Potpourri does not make garbage smell better.
Garbage makes potpourri smell worse.

There is no Christ-scented potpourri.
There is Christ and there is potpourri.
You either smell like Jesus or your smell like… well, crap!

2 Corinthians 2:14-15

14 But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.15 For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

where there is a will, there is a way depending on whose will and what way‏

Hebrews 9:16-17

16 Where a will exists, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will is valid only when people die, since it is never in force while the one who made it is living.

If you leave me your house in your will, I do not take over as its rightful owner until you die. If you are not dead, it is not mine.

In order for me to inherit that which is God’s, He has to die. If my desire is to have that which only God can give me, I have to wait for Him to die to receive it. If I am in His will, I am waiting upon Him.

The Good News of God is that Jesus Christ died.

Hebrews 9:26b-28

26b …But now He has appeared one time, at the end of the ages, for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of Himself.27 And just as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment—28 so also the Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.

Because He died, we can live. It was in His will. Upon His death, the transfer was made by its Executor. You now have what was His if by faith you are seeking what is His.

As long as the aim is merely to get yours, yours is all you will get.
You are living only to accrue that which you will one day be forced to leave to someone else.

When you die, your earthly treasures will be distributed to earthly inhabitants.
When you die, your eternal reward will either be a room prepared by Christ or one prepared for the Devil and his angels.

Are you in God’s will?
Have you inherited that which is given by Christ’s death?
It is only gained by grace through faith.

Are you in God’s will?
Are you living in a way that demonstrates you actively desire to know, love, and obey Jesus today?
Not yesterday.
But today.

Do you have faith in God today?
Would you day today look any different if you did not have faith?
How so?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

the results are in: kids are stupid

Jeremiah 4:22

22 “For my people are foolish;
they know me not;
they are stupid children; they have no understanding.
They are ‘wise’—in doing evil!
But how to do good they know not."

The wisdom of this world is demonic.

It is wisdom inasmuch as it is pragmatic. 
It works. 
More often than not.

There are better ways to do evil.
Some ways just work better.

There are whole television shows and magazines devoted toward worldly wisdom in pursuing worldly idols. They want to help you do evil better.  Because let's face it: your biggest problem is that you are not very good at being wicked.  You could be better.  Buck up chuck, we are all in this together.

Remember "The Pick Up Artist"? 
Wise in doing evil.

Remember "The Millionaire Matchmaker"?
Wise in doing evil.

We are good at evil. 
Damn good.

pun: intended.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"i want what is owed to me!" and other things that Grace will slay you for saying.

Jeremiah 4:18

18 Your ways and your deeds
have brought this upon you.

This is your doom, and it is bitter;
it has reached your very heart.

The worst strategy for surviving God's presence is requesting what you have earned. 
The next worst, by the by, is banking on being better than the guy next to you.

"The wages of sin is death."

Paul says this in Romans having already exhaustively proven that we are sinners. 

What do sinners do? 
They sin. 

What does sin earn? 

Connect the dots.

We are sinners who sin. 
Sin is our wages. 
What we earn is death.
Our paycheck sucks.

You do not want what is coming to you.

This is your doom, and it is bitter;
it has reached your very heart.

You need grace.
You will not be shown grace by God.
He is too holy to pretend you aren't.

You need Jesus.

Romans 4:4-5

4 Now to the one who works, pay is not considered as a gift, but as something owed. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness.

In Jesus, our wages are paid. 
He cashed the checks our hearts wrote.

By faith, Jesus' wages are transferred to our account. 
He earned godly wages and grants them to us.

This is the Great Exchange.

And all of this by faith in receiving something on your behalf already accomplished by God.

Monday, November 26, 2012

for all this His anger has not turned away

Do you see a theme developing HERE?

On account of sin, the Lord's hot anger burns and He will one day vent fully that which He has been storing up for ages.

Wrath is real.

Only in Jesus is it quenched and absorbed so fully as to not set aflame everything else.

If you are in Jesus, you can rest in that He has been burnt by this wrath for you.
If you are not in Jesus, the wrath of God will one day rest on you.

Friday, November 23, 2012

hot wheels‏

Happy Black Friday!

This probably goes without saying, but please do not trample to death someone today in order to get a good deal on something. 
Pretty please?
Hebrews 8:6
6 But Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry, and to that degree He is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been legally enacted on better promises.
The Law was not meant to save us, but to point us to the One who could.
The Law is not bad.
The Law is holy.
The Law is bad at saving you, but that's like saying your house is bad at driving you to work.
Your house is really good at keeping you safe and warm and sitting really still.
It may be the best at it.

The fact that it does not have wheels does not make it a bad house, it makes it a bad car.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

for Christ's sake, let Him do it!

Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest made the following comment:
If you are debating as to whether or not God can deliver from sin, then either let Him do it or tell Him that He cannot.
I wasted many years under the weight of Law complaining to God that I could not do it. I cried out in fear and despair requesting assistance to fulfill His Holy and righteous commands. I doubted my place in Christ often and pled with Him often to make me who I wished to be and who I knew He required me to be.
In recent years I have began to ealize that the person I desired to be was one to whom God would rightfully say, “I never knew you.” I wanted to be self-righteous. I wanted a whiteness all my own. I wanted a purity I could see in the mirror. I wanted a goodness that could be counted and verified by way of external evidence. I wanted God to approve of me. I hated my inability to live up to my own standards. I hated that God's standards were so difficult to achieve. I expected so much more from myself. I wanted so much more for myself.
The in-breaking of God’s Gospel in Christ’s completed work began to stir my slumbering soul from sleep in hearing of His Good News accompanied song lyrics like this Hillsong classic, “Mighty to Save
He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Author of Salvation
He rose & conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave
I began to realize exactly what Chambers expounds here. I was telling God that He could not save me. Not because I did not want it.  But becasue, in part, I wanted to do it myself.   I wanted to help Him save me.  But I was telling Jesus that He could not. That He was not capable. I was, in essence, telling Him that His completed work was not enough. It would take the Cross + __?__ to save me. I could not put my finger on the "?” from the equation above and as such lived in despair. I knew I was not complete, but I did not know how. I was focused on statements that began with, “I am ____,” when I needed to dwell upon statements that began with, “God is _____.”
As it turns out, it was not myself about whom I was wrong. I knew me. I knew I had failed. But I underestimated Jesus. I defiantly refused to believe that He could do what He clearly stated He already did. I did not believe in the power of His life, His death, or His resurrection. I knew that they were sufficient to save somebody, I just wasn’t sure it was enough for me. After all, if I was saved, why didn’t my life look more like His in response?
The answer: I did not believe in Him as my righteousness. I would not allow Him to save me because I distrusted Him to do it without my help. If you are struggling with your faith, wrestling with your failure, and finding yourself wanting in response to this perfect Jesus and His perfect Law, pick one of the two options Chambers proposes:
“either let Him do it or tell Him that He cannot.”
Receive the Gospel or tell Him that His Gospel falls flat. Do not make this about your inability. Do not make this about how much you question yourself. God knows you suck. He’s convinced. That is why Jesus had to die. Stop trying to argue with Him about why you don’t deserve it. He knows you don't, that's why it is His mercy and grace that provide it as a gift.  Now receive what He is willing to do for people who suck like you or tell Him that He is weak where you are strong in doubting Him.

Today, Thanksgiving, would be a fitting day if you have not previously done so, to accept God's gift of righteousness revealed in Christ and live in view of God's mercies as you renew your mind and surrender your body as a living sacrifice.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

wake up called

Daniel 12:2

2 Many of those who sleep in the dust
of the earth will awake,
some to eternal life,
and some to shame and eternal contempt.

Eternal life sounds awesome as long as you imagine that it is filled with rest and recreation. I want to go to there.

Howver, imagine a life filled with shame and contempt forever. I would rather die and be dead forever than be alive in a state of shame and embarrassment forever. People say things like, “I was so embarrassed I could have died.” This assumes that death would alleviate the embarrassment. Scripture confirms for us that those who reject God will not escape the humiliation they have accrued in their indignation, but will rather be exposed to it over and over again forever.

People in hell literally say things like, “I am so embarrassed, I wish I could die," and these words actually mean something since the hyperbole is removed.

We all have had thoughts on which we have not acted. We have had desires to say or do things we have withheld. These things perhaps were stifled by a stuffy cultural backdrop or the cowardice of the thinker. Either way, we often restrain ourselves on our own volition. We have more to say than we say. We desire to do more than we do. These are not secrets we will keep forever.

He knows.

He knows that there is evil we wish we could have done. 
He knows that there were good intentions we were too lazy or too busy to complete.

The truth be told, there are two types of people in this world:

(1) People who believe there are two types of people
(2) People who don’t believe that there are two types of people.

Some people are wrong.

some to eternal life, and some to shame and eternal contempt.

He knows both full well and both are bad.
But eternity pivots not upon our badness, but solely upon Jesus' goodness.
Those found in Him fall one way and those who are not fall the other.
This is not to make more of you and your sin's significance per se.
Rather, this is primarily purposed toward making more of Jesus.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

drudge dread

My Utmost for His Highest delivered food for thought in stating this:

Discipleship is built entirely on the supernatural grace of God. Walking on water is easy to someone with impulsive boldness, but walking on dry land as a disciple of Jesus Christ is something altogether different. Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus, but he “followed Him at a distance” on dry land (Mark 14:54). We do not need the grace of God to withstand crises—human nature and pride are sufficient for us to face the stress and strain magnificently. But it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours of every day as a saint, going through drudgery, and living an ordinary, unnoticed, and ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God—but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people—and this is not learned in five minutes.
I am only in the more recent months of my life by the grace of God acknowledging and truly beginning to understand these ideas of both “carrying your cross daily” and “living a quiet life in the Lord.”
Carrying your cross daily seems like an oxymoron. If it is the cross of being crucified with Christ, it seems as though this should be done once. It is difficult to get up for being crucified on a daily basis. Not to mention the logistics of it being most likely an impossibility to die every day. I usually think of dying just the once. So the carrying of one’s cross as Jesus commands is not as simple as that which would be required to rise to an isolated incident of death to self. The old axiom, “the difficulty with living sacrifices is that they often try to crawl off the altar” is entirely applicably inserted here.
Secondly, this idea that going to work, paying your bills, kissing your wife, repenting for a crappy attitude, driving the speed limit, unloading the dishwasher, wiping up a child’s snot, straightening the slipcovers on the couch, and mowing the lawn all require the grace of God to do in faith is difficult to remember. We all would likely agree that we would need God to season our words if we were to try to preach the Gospel to a loved one who is lost. We would depend on Him fully for the success of the endeavor. However, we are far too often self-reliant in assuming that we can go unnoticed in the drudgery without His Spirit to assist.
That is not to say that the point is simply to endure well. As Chambers rightly points out, many of us are capable of rising up on occassion if only out of self-motivation. Pride and fear are entirely capable guides. We can accomplish much on compulsion alone. We get done what we want to get done more often than not. Come hell or high water; we rise up.
The obedience of faith in Christ required of one consecrated to God can prepare us BOTH for exceptional moments and enable us to endure lackluster Mondays. If we are only faithful when the situation requires more of us than what we often are, it is doubtful that our faith can sustain us where faith alone can save us. You cannot take a vacation from faith and be counted faithful. We are not more in Him in moments of grandeur than we are in moments of despair.
This is not an implied guilt trip over your daily failure to see God’s grace alive and active in your life. This is me pointing very clearly to your failure with respect to this fact. 
You fail at this, daily.
God requires you to believe in the exceptional Christ in the ordinary disappointments and drudgeries of daily life. 

This Christ was faithful where you failed. 
He was perfect where you fell short. 
He conquered what has defeated you daily.
This is not about doing something awesome for God. 
This is about an awesome God Who has done everything for us. 

This is about knowing Him in His sufferings so that we might know Him in His victory.
To know Jesus is to know all of Him in both.
We desire to know Him in dancing and abandon Him when enters the dirge.
We do not want a Gospel in the dirt.
We want the Gospel set on mountain tops.
Jesus is as much God in your duties as He is in your delights.
Remember Him who took upon Himself disappointments He did not have to endure so that you could endure disappointment right alongside Him. The Savior who washes feet as well as conscience. A God for the valleys as well as the mountains.

Monday, November 19, 2012

thoughts from "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding

Front Cover

I recently "read" this book on audio CD while commuting back and forth to work. This is a very short, yet very powerful look into the total depravity of man.

The word "Beelzebub" that is often used as a name for Satan literally means, "Lord of the Flies." This novel confirms both the existence of evil within and without: that is a tendency to bend toward hell acting out from within and an active force from outside us desiring to penetrate and plant seeds deeper within us.

This novel explores how much of what we do is influenced by who is watching and in what circumstances we find ourselves. Golding's theory is that the removal of societal restraint results in the manifestation of who we really are; and who we are is not pretty. There is a danger lurking inside us that bubbles over if left unchecked.  Not unlike a pot of spaghetti set on "high."  Darkness exists inside and outside us. It is emphasized by the absence of light. Take away the light and the darkness is revealed to be even more dark. What hinted at in shadows while the light remained is highlighted as darkness.

Here are a few notable scenes and lines from the book that jumped out at me and a few comments regarding them:

"Roger gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them. Yet there was a space round Henry, perhaps six yards in diameter, into which he dare not throw. Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law."

From this scene Golding is drawing out that Roger desired to throw rocks closer to Henry. Perhaps he even desired to hit Henry. But he felt as though he shouldn't. He still was operating under the weight of restraint imposed upon him.  There was a grace being evidenced in Roger's reluctance.  If this grace were to be removed, he would be "free" to do as he pleased;and hitting Henry with a rock would be fun. The "ought to" had to be obliterated before the sin could be enjoyed entirely.

"There isn’t anyone to help you. Only me. And I’m the Beast. . . . Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! . . . You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are the way they are?”

Simon wanted to destroy the thing that had brought terror to him and his friends. He discovered that the most dangerous evil on the island was that which was lurking inside him and his friends. Their very nature and natural outworkings would produce greater terror than the evils they assigned to something "out there." Simon realized all of this while being in contact with an actual evil out there. The cleverness of the real Beast was to point the children inward into themselves. The Lord of the Flies did not want to terrorize the children from the darkness of the forrest, but rather desired to make his home in the darkness already present inside the hearts of these children.

Upon hearing this evil incantation from the Lord of the Flies, Simon runs back to the camp to tell everyone that the Beast of the darkness is not what they thought it was.  He sense that this news must reach the others as soon as possible. When he attempts to share the message, however, he is killed by the other children as part of a ceremony designed to satiate the very beast Simon was coming to dispel. The boys were performing a ritual aimed at making peace with the Beast. In their ignorant arrogance, they killed the messenger who carried a message of reconciliation. Peace was possible, but the prophet was put down before he could proclaim it.

“Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of a true, wise friend called Piggy”

The boys are rescued by a naval officer at the end of the novel.  Ralph is physically exhausted after being hunted down by the tribe of children who have gone ferrell with no supervision.  Ralph knows that the naval officer is his salvation.  He is now free from the tryanny of evil chasing him down.  He was on the brink of obliteration.  Evil was going to overcome him and destroy him.  Not in turning him to their evil persuasion, but in their desire to stamp out his resistance to their desire to go unrestrained.  Ralph's friend Piggy was murdered by these boys.  Boys who once studied together and survived together.  Boys who lived together and turned on each other.  They went ferrell.  They reverted to the evil within and it didn't take long to do so. In the end, only Ralph and Piggy truly held allegiance to pursuing good for goodness' sake.  Piggy was killed for it.  Ralph was in the process of being hunted down.

The knowledge of good and evil now realized by Ralph has robbed him of a life he previously lived.  Ralph may have known a little about the darkness that lurks within before.  Now he had seen it firsthand. Now there was no such thing as theory.  There was evil and it was closer to home then he was comfortable.

This is a great little book that provokes one's mind to ponder the depths of man and the grace of God in placing restraints on us.  We are not utterly depraved.  We could be worse.  But we are totally depraved.  Our depravity touches all of us.  All of who we are.  Each one of us.

Friday, November 16, 2012

because and effects‏

In My Utmost for His Highest the other morning I read..

Beware of saying, “Oh, I am longing to be sanctified.” No, you are not. Recognize your need, but stop longing and make it a matter of action. Receive Jesus Christ to become sanctification for you by absolute, unquestioning faith, and the great miracle of the atonement of Jesus will become real in you.

All that Jesus made possible becomes mine through the free and loving gift of God on the basis of what Christ accomplished on the cross. And my attitude as a saved and sanctified soul is that of profound, humble holiness (there is no such thing as proud holiness). It is a holiness based on agonizing repentance, a sense of inexpressible shame and degradation, and also on the amazing realization that the love of God demonstrated itself to me while I cared nothing about Him (see Romans 5:8). He completed everything for my salvation and sanctification. No wonder Paul said that nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).

Sanctification makes me one with Jesus Christ, and in Him one with God, and it is accomplished only through the magnificent atonement of Christ. Never confuse the effect with the cause. The effect in me is obedience, service, and prayer, and is the outcome of inexpressible thanks and adoration for the miraculous sanctification that has been brought about in me because of the atonement through the Cross of Christ.

How sure are you of your salvation?

This question is often asked by us to others and of ourselves.

Chambers rightly points us to the immediate follow up question that reveals the heart of the first:

How sure are you of Christ?

What can separate us from the love of God in Christ?


We spend countless hours asking God to do for us that which He has already done perfectly once for all. It is not a matter of a new revelation or a new filling of the Spirit. It is a matter of believing and depending all the more upon the One who deserves my worship. He inherited everything and forfeited all. I deserve nothing and inherit everything because Jesus has bestowed it. He died a death He did not deserve to pay a debt He did not owe. He lived a life I should have lived to give me life I did not have or want.

Jesus did all of this for bankrupt criminals who were hell bent on resisting reformation.

No ability to pay off our debt and accruing more daily.
No ability to defend our guilt and accruing more daily.
No ability to remove dirt from our souls and getting dirtier daily.
No desire to be reformed and deforming ourselves more daily.

When we do right by God, it is in response to what He has done.
It is not a matter of earning or achieving sanctification as though it were now our job to become god. 

We do not sanctify ourselves.

Galatians 3:3

Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?

We did not enter the Kingdom by our efforts.
We will not now be expected to earn our keep in the Kingdom by our efforts.
We will, however, exert much in the way of effort in responding joyously to that which has been done in, to, and for us fully by and through Jesus Christ alone!

We are sanctified if we are in Jesus..
We are made holy because Christ is wholly for us.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

a pivot /\ of contention

Revelation 9:20-21

The rest of the people, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands to stop worshiping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which are not able to see, hear, or walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders, their sorceries, their sexual immorality, or their thefts.

The same sun that melts the ice, hardens the clay. (pg. 7)

The same Son that melts one heart, hardens another.

There is one, true Gospel. It either sets one free or strengthens one’s resolve in rejecting its Author.

This is Biblical fiber.
The very fibers of our faith. 
But very difficult to digest.

It is likely that we assume that those in a state of disbelief need only to see God at work in their lives to accept His rule over them. However,
Romans 1:18-32 makes clear that these same people already see and understand God’s work in and around their lives and reject Him nevertheless.

One of the more transparent depictions of this dilemma is observed in these verses in Revelation. These people are observing the active, visible wrath of God in tangible, documentable ways. Unlike the passive wrath of God being displayed in Romans 1 in allowing the hard heart to harden itself the more in rebellion, Revelation reveals an active, tangible wrath that is demonstrable in measurable weight.

However, even in this place of devastation, the reaction is not to repent before the God capable of producing that which their eyes are observing, but rather to curse Him and continue in waywardness and defiance.

It is not a disbelief in His capacity, it is a rejection of His authority.

The sinner's most tangible dilemma is not that they fail to follow God’s rules, but rather that they despise the Ruler.

It is not simply a rejection of jurisdiction, but a rejection of the Judge.

These people in Revelation were spared the first waves of God’s visible wrath. They were saved from it. But their response is NOT to repent and worship. It is to reject in hatred the God who spared them. They are not the first to react in this manner.

Sinners do not need to see God move to believe that He is there.

Sinners know He is there and hate Him for not leaving them alone.

It is by His grace that He intercedes in unstopping our ears to hear and unblinding our eyes to see this blessed state of having been spared: spared from that which we have seen destroy others. His grace is observed in granting us faith to respond in love and obedience.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

fear both in failure and forgiveness‏

Daniel 10:17-19

17 How can someone like me, your servant, speak with someone like you, my lord? Now I have no strength, and there is no breath in me.”
18 Then the one with human likeness touched me again and strengthened me.
19 He said, “Don’t be afraid, you who are treasured by God. Peace to you; be very strong!”
As he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”

Praise God for His grace in allowing us to be devastated before Him. It is only by His Spirit that we see ourselves for who we are in light of seeing Him as He is. This unequivocally puts to death and dispells the divorce of humility and holiness and marries them perfectly. Our response to God's holiness revealed is devastation. We lose strength and breath. In God's mercy He imputes strength to stand and serve in response to Him.

He lifts up the knelt down.

If you are standng in your spirit, you are prime to be knocked over.

If God has given you strength, you have that which empowers you to be before and receive His Word. If we merely hear His Words, we are destroyed and despairing of our inability to be in His presence and do what He commands. If He provides that which He demands, we can stand confident.

In Christ, God has lifted up the broken to serve before Him in confident humility. We succeed because He succeeded. We live because He lived perfectly. We die to sin because He died once for all.

"Let my Lord speak, for you have strengthened me."

The only right response to our Lord's kindness is to ask Him to speak more. The Good News unstops our ears to hear more from Him. It is not imposing or unyielding in its severity, but delightful and liberating in its delicate resurrecting of our fragile persons. As violent as the stroke is that strikes fear into our soul, is the gentle kindness that lifts the frightened corpse to life.

We are given fear to repent and fear to revere. 

In Him we have BOTH reason to remember and reason to forget our sin.

At first, His words disarmed. 
Now in Christ they empower. 

The lifeless receives life. 
The breathless gets breath. 

Life to live unto God. 
Breath to breath His Gospel.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

a firmer foundation

Daniel 9:18

18 Listen, my God, and hear. Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city called by Your name. For we are not presenting our petitions before You based on our righteous acts, but based on Your abundant compassion.

If you want a raise at work, you had better be able to present a great case for why you are awesome and deserve that for which you petition.

If you want someone to forgive you, you had better be able to present a great case for why you are sorry and deserve to be forgiven.

This is how the world of man works. We all understand. We agree. We earn our keep. If we are owed more than we have, we prepare a case to lobby for our estimated wages. Quid pro quo. Your power, my persuasion. You have what I want or can accomplish what I ask. Here are the 10 reasons why you should do _____ for me.

This is NOT how the world of God works.

If you want something, you ask based on His generosity.
If you want forgiveness, you ask based on His mercy.

"For we are not presenting our petitions before You based on our righteous acts, but based on Your abundant compassion."

Monday, November 12, 2012

all revved up on horsepower

So I was reading Revelation 6 where the 7 seals are addressed and I am reading,

Seal 1 – White Horse
Seal 2 – Red Horse
Seal 3 – Black Horse
Seal 4 – Pale Horse

And then you get to Seal 5 and instead of another horse, you have martyrs crying out for vengeance.

Why not a blue horse? What about a rainbow horse? Why pass on a silver horse?

Colored horses aside, Seal 5 presents an interesting prayer request.

Revelation 6:9-11


9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the people slaughtered because of God’s word and the testimony they had.10 They cried out with a loud voice: “Lord, the One who is holy and true, how long until You judge and avenge our blood from those who live on the earth?”11 So a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little while longer until the number would be completed of their fellow slaves and their brothers, who were going to be killed just as they had been.

Is it right for us to pray for Gods’ judgment to fall upon those who openly defy Him and His servants? Yes. The very premise of God stating, “Vengeance is mine” is to accomplish 2 (if not more) things:

(1) Do not take vengeance yourself. Withhold retribution. It is not ultimately you who is most offended by another’s sin. It is God’s battle to fight. Do not fight God’s battles. You cannot win them. They are too big for you. And it is not your place. Stop trying to be God. We went over this when you first came to Christ, remember?

(2) God will vent His vengeance. He is promising to do so. If He asked you to forego vengeance only to punt on it Himself, He would be a liar. He really is going to punish sin and wickedness. He has done so on the Cross for those who by faith enter into His courts in confident humility. He has prepared a place for those who by rebellion enter into His Hell in eternal humiliation and suffering. "Heaping fiery coals on their heads" is not merely a hyperbole as it turns out.

It is right to pray that God would put an end to evil by upholding justice. It is right to affirm His punishment of Jesus on the Cross and the eternal punishment of hell. Both affirm God’s commitment to His own holiness. Our sins will be paid for by someone.

either by Jesus on the Cross


by us in His hell.

Which leads me to:

Revelation 6:16-17

16 And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 because the great day of Their wrath has come! And who is able to stand?

Gentle Jesus, meek and mild. This is a beautiful depiction of His humility in becoming like us to serve us and  die by our hands. The wrath of the Lamb is a beautiful depiction of His power, honor, glory, dominion, and justice to punish evil by His hands. Peace and Wrath are found in and executed by Him.

It is the wrath of Jesus that will make right what was wrong by putting an emphatic end to evil. Jesus came to serve. He lives to intercede. He will return to gather His. He will punish forever those who are not.

Friday, November 9, 2012

#, wt., /

I thought about going with the obvious, “the writing’s on the wall,” or “your days are numbers, “ or “the finger of God,” or even “the magic hand picture show” Instead I went symbolic, but not creatively symbolic. Nothing like “this horse represents my fear of heights” kind of symbolism. More like, “$ is the symbol of money.” All that said, I figured “numbered, weighed, and divided” translated well enough to “#, wt., /.” If it didn’t, then this explanation leaves you without excuse. But I digress…
Daniel 5:22-23a
22 “But you his successor, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this.23 Instead, you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven…”
What did Belshazzar know? His dad (or grandfather or great grandfather depending on the use of the word) was humbled before God and made bold proclamation of His sovereign rule over all things. Belshazzar knew better. He knew what had happened to Nebuchadnezzar achieved, how he was humiliated, and how in that he found faith and confidence in God alone. Belshazzar knew this and yet willfully ignorant, acted in complete defiance of these facts. Nebuchadnezzar exalted himself before God and God was gracious enough to pursue him through humiliation and restoration. Belshazzar is not afforded the same opportunity. He knew the (albeit ancient and not yet fully formed) Good News that by faith in God we find our only hope. He rejected this Good News in conformity to the first and oldest deception – the worship of one’s self. Satan led the way by example and Adam and Eve followed in step and ever since it has been the tendency of mankind to assume the world revolves around them. After all, “if a tree falls in the forest and I’m not around to hear it, how can I be sure it makes a sound?” As though the world requires your attendance to continue its regularly scheduled programming.

Daniel 5:24-28


24 Therefore, He sent the hand, and this writing was inscribed.
25 “This is the writing that was inscribed:
26 This is the interpretation of the message: MENE means that God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end.
27 TEKEL means that you have been weighed in the balance and found deficient.
28 PERES means that your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
God is so billy bad apple. I love it. I also love how Daniel at this point has been through this song and dance enough times that the pomp and circumstances of standing before a despot has entirely worn off. He simply tells it like it is and perhaps even gets a little lippy about it: 
“Keep your money. I don’t want it. You can’t buy me off. Give it to one of your goons. You know how the former king was blessed by God with many things that he turned around and used for selfish gain. You know how God responded to this by turning him into a damp-backed freak with an eagle-feather hair-do/don’t. You know that he turned to God when he understood it was God’s gift and not his own work, pedigree, power, or prestige that procured all these things. Instead of heeding this advice, you make the exact same mistake he made. You know better. So God has written this message to you: 'Your days are numbered and are coming to an end sooner rather than later. You have been measured and even though you think you’re a big deal, you’re not. You fall short. You missed the mark.' Your prestige means nothing before God who is no respecter of persons. I can’t believe you were so lucky to hear the Good News and witnessed it in the person of the former king and yet you just reject it and live like a fool. Your kingdom is not your kingdom. It is God’s and He is giving it to someone else. Also, He is going to divide all of this you worked so hard for and split it up. D-bag.”
***By the way, that was another tasty treat from the VVCSV ~ the Van Voorst Christian Standard Version. It is less of a translation and more of a commentary. Not great for in depth word study, but fun food for thought. I also like that in my version Daniel gets to use modern slander like d-bag. 
Don’t be a d-bag. 
Your days too are numbered. You too will be measured. All you have also will be divided among those you leave behind after your demise. Humble yourself now. Do not delay.

Hebrews 3:15-19

15 As it is said:
Today, if you hear His voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.
16 For who heard and rebelled? Wasn’t it really all who came out of Egypt under Moses?17 And who was He provoked with for 40 years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?18 And who did He swear to that they would not enter His rest, if not those who disobeyed?19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
Those mentioned above saw cooler stuff than most of us: the plagues of Egypt, the Red Sea, Mt. Sinai, pillar of cloud, pillar of fire, etc… They saw all of that and yet did not believe. They did not conform their lives by faith to God. 

Belshazzar knew the deal. 
Israel knew the deal. 

It is not merely a knowing, but a believing and conforming faith that makes us right with God.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

there is nothing worse than feeling foolish except perhaps being foolish and not knowing it‏

Daniel 4:37
37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt, and glorify the King of heaven, because all His works are true and His ways are just. He is able to humble those who walk in pride.
I do not like looking dumb in front of other people. If I accidentally toot at work I continue working or do some sort of shuffling with the papers or chair to imply that it was them that tooted and not me. If I make a bold declaration of fact in conversation and later discover that I was wrong, I do not desire to bring it to the attention of the one I so ferociously fought before. If I forget to release the emergency brake and drive 20 miles on the interstate and park in my driveway before I realize it, I do not like to advertise it on my blog. If I declare, “Who wants to get beat at cards?” and go on to have my rear handed to me in said cards game, I feel silly and I do not like it. I do not like to be told I’m wrong. Even more, I hate being proven wrong! I like to fight and defend my position against those who throw accusations my way, but I hate it when they have evidence to prove it.
I love that God was gracious enough to tell me I was wrong. In pride I walked in the way of my sight and thought I was doing Him a favor all along. I was my own king and assumed most people would be better off if they let me rule over them too. I had a kingdom I had accumulated and I loved it. I was proud of what I had done.
Then God just made me look silly. I had never taken the Law seriously. I assumed I was keeping it or at least keeping it better than most. By God’s grace He alerted me to the Law. I saw it and desired to keep it as it was written (not as I assumed it) for the first time in my life. I was excited and enlightened and felt refreshed and awakened from a slumber. Then I fell again. I fell short, again. My biggest disappointment was that I had expected so much more from myself. I had always wanted to be white in my own eyes. Before I knew the Law I assumed I was white by my own standard. Once I took the Law seriously, I began chasing God’s standard of whiteness. Both of these were to my own demise. I fell flat and failed at both, the latter more miserably than the first mind you.
I was first awesome in my own eyes and then flawed and foolish in my own yes. My primary concern was still the fear of man. In my case, the man I feared most was my own opinion. I wanted to be impressive in my own eyes.
In all this, God still pursued me. He used the Law to break me. He used the Law to make me feel foolish like when the kid on the playground punked me and my words failed to resurrect my humbled corpse of a body. I hated that kid. He made me look dumb and everyone else agreed with him. I was powerless to defend myself. My typical response to this was bitter hatred. But with God it was different. His shame produced hope. His guilt trip produced steadfast faith.
Like Nebuchadnezzar, I found myself the most surprised to be responding to humiliation with celebration. God made me look dumb and I wanted the world to know. Not only that, but I wanted the world to give glory to God for doing it. Not only that ,but I wanted the world to feel foolish that they too might rejoice and give glory to God in response to His power to bring low the lofty. 
Our God can make the proudest puny. He can. Do not lose hope for those who appear the most rebellious and arrogantly opposed to God. He has the ability to humble them. May we pray that He would do so. May His Law be handled by us no less Holy than it is. May we never soften its blow. May we not rob from someone the opportunity to proclaim,
I praise, exalt, and glorify the King of heaven, because all His works are true and His ways are just. He is able to humble those who walk in pride”
I am grateful God reduced me to nothing in my own eyes and the eyes of others. Because that is who and what I am. Nothing. Until God revealed this to me I was destined and committed to believing I was or could be something. Until God in grace hammered my assumptions away I was determined to continue building on a false foundation. I liked my ignorance. I liked my arrogance. 

That was then. 

This is now. 

John 3:30

30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

the right, your rights, and His righteousness‏

Today I read the book of Philemon. If you are not a regular Bible reader, don't be too impressed that I read an entire book of the Bible today. It is a letter from Paul to Philemon and it consists of only 25 verses.

Paul is making a request of Philemon. He is asking him to be demonstrate fruit in keeping with the Gospel of God that Philemon professes. Paul does not hesitate to qualify what the correct and proper response is to his request. Paul does not "leave up" to Philemon the interpretation of right or wrong, but he does submit his request to Philemon's right to disobey.

"14 But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent, so that your good deed might not be out of obligation, but of your own free will."

Paul has leverage as an Apostle hand-picked by God to preach the Gospel to the gentiles. Paul has pull as Philemon's friend. Paul has authority in that he likely led Philemon to Christ and is his spiritual father of sorts. Paul does not let this fact go undocumented.

"18 And if he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self."

Paul eagerly desires to see his friend, son, and brother Philemon respond in step with the Gospel by extending grace where it has been already extended to him in and by Jesus. Notice that Paul intentionally uses Gospel imagery in making his petition to Philemon.

Onesimus has wronged Philemon and owes him money, honor, respect, and service which he forsook in fleeing. Onesimus in indebted to Philemon for things he left undone and things he did which were wrong. Onesimus needs Philemon's forgiveness.

Paul's plea is that Philemon would see in this depiction a vision of himself before God.

Philemon was a sinner saved by grace. He owed God service he had passively left undone. He also actively broke God's rules. Philemon was indebted to God for everything and had not acknowledged His authority over him. BUT, God rescued him in Christ. God sent Paul to preach the Good News of reconciliation and redemption in Christ. By grace God granted faith to Philemon to repent, receive and believe in Jesus. How can he who had been forgiven so much and been reconciled so great a debt now turn around and hold a grudge against another? Particularly when the debt is not as great as that which he himself had been forgiven. Specifically now that this one, Onesimus, had also repented, received and believed on Jesus for his forgiveness. Jesus had forgiven Onesimus for his sin against Philemon. Paul is urging and encouraging Philemon now to forgive Onesimus' debts as he also was forgiven his own.

"21 Since I am confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say."

Paul here is very clear about what he desires (the right thing) and the expectation he has of Philemon (righteousness). He also confirms that he cannot by force make Philemon ultimately to do that which he desires most. Paul wants Philemon to want to do the right thing for the right reasons. He wants Philemon to believe and trust in God enough to extend grace to others.  Not by bullying, but by regeneration.  In order to do so, Philemon must be instructed as to what is (right), but also given the opportunity to respond (his right) according to his own heart's conviction (righteousness if in concert with the right).

May we study and delight in that which God has called us to do and despise that which He has called us to abandon. May we respond to His authority with deference and His kindness with devotion. May we, like Paul, urge and spur our brothers and sisters to do the right thing, the neighborly thing, the loving thing, the tough and godly thing. May we like Philemon, be expected and anticipated to do right.

As a church we should affirm both of these:   
  1. We will speak truth and encourage faithfulness in our brothers and sisters according to God's Word.
  2. We will listen to the truth and welcome rebuke and/or encouragement from our brothers and sisters if they see in us thoughts, attitudes, or actions in conflict or contradiction to God's Word. 
Can we as a church make this covenant?

Can we determine to be accountable BOTH to calling each other out AND to receiving rebuke if we are in error?

May it be so to the glory of God and Christ being formed more and more daily within us.