Monday, December 31, 2012

the meek shall inherit the dirge‏

Oswald (or Oz as I just now affectionately made up calling him) had this to say yesterday,
The first thing God does is get us grounded on strong reality and truth. He does this until our cares for ourselves individually have been brought into submission to His way for the purpose of His redemption. Why shouldn’t we experience heartbreak?Through those doorways God is opening up ways of fellowship with His Son. Most of us collapse at the first grip of pain. We sit down at the door of God’s purpose andenter a slow death through self-pity. And all the so-called Christian sympathy of others helps us to our deathbed. But God will not. He comes with the grip of the pierced hand of His Son, as if to say, “Enter into fellowship with Me; arise and shine.” If God can accomplish His purposes in this world through a broken heart, then why not thank Him for breaking yours?

The temptation to feel sorry for one’s self is ever present. There are any number of things that do not go our way in the course of a given day. Our will is not done. We desire and despair. We wish and wane. The world does not conform itself to the plans we had for it and it breaks our hearts on occasion. Some of the things we want are good things. They are not driven entirely by self—interest and greed. And yet, even these fall short of fruition on occasion. We understand why the bad things we sometimes desire should not be given to us, but struggle to absorb the good things we desire for others or ourselves when they do not come to pass.

We are made to pity. We were designed to take pity on those in dire distress. The difficulty of our current dilemma is that we more often than not aim this pity on ourselves exclusively. Who better to provide an excuse for us than us? Who knows how much we deserve better than us? Who knows how much we put up with better than us? If we are following Jesus, all the more. We forgive sins committed against us and look for opportunities to display grace. We do not say everything that comes to mind for the sake of dying to ourselves and promoting unity in the body. We do so and secretly, sometimes, we get pissed about it. And we pity ourselves.

And like Romans 1 suggests, we are eager to come along side those who will fan this fire to flame. We find refuge in the company of others also taking pity on themselves. We literally have pity parties. We all get together and worship ourselves in front of others who are also worshipping themselves. We applaud them for doing so because we like worshipping ourselves too. It feels good. It feels good to be in bad company. It makes badness feel good. We prefer the company of comfort at any cost to the companionship of Christ.

This is not a diatribe rooted in the purpose of doing away with honesty. If we are having doubts and pity for ourselves, we should talk to others about these things. But we should do so in a spirit of confession. We assume that the commonness of a struggle is what provides comfort to endure it. It is not the common pitfalls of man that comfort, but the uncommon crucifixion of Christ.
It is hard to die to yourself. It is very difficult. Do not give in, however, to the desire to find comfort in resisting it. Do not extend this pseudo-Christian sympathy to others anymore than you seek it for yourselves. Provide REAL comfort in Christ. Point people to Jesus. Point yourself to Jesus. In Him are all things and in Him we inherit all that is His. Praise God! Included in all things, however, is His suffering and perseverance. Do you want perseverance or do you want luxury? A life of patience or an isolated life lived in the inner self, finding comfort in pity aimed primarily at one’s own circumstances, hardened and resistant to the needs of others.

Friday, December 28, 2012

a love unrequited (which doubles as an amazing emo/screamo side project if anyone is interested?)

1 John 2:1-2
2 My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the Righteous One.2 He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.
No one works harder to avoid sin than the Christian.
No one works harder to seek God than the Christian.
No one rests more assuredly in Jesus' completed work than the Christian.
No one rests more comfortably in trust in Jesus than the Christian.
If you have been reborn of God by faith in Jesus your heart’s desire is to stop sinning and to start worshipping rightly.
John is not laying another weight or burden upon those whom Jesus has lightened the load. John is emphasizing that those who love Jesus love what Jesus loves. You also hate what Jesus hates. If you do not love what Jesus loves or hate what Jesus hates, you may not love Jesus.
Do you love Jesus perfectly?
Do you love Jesus as He deserves to be loved?
Do you love Him at all?
If you do, you will try hard to please Him and make much of Him and rest well in knowing that by His work He is pleased with you.
If you are grateful for what He has done, you will tell people about it.
If you are grateful for what He has done, you will remind yourself of it often.

Love begets love.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

'tis the season for receiving amidst the giving‏

Acts 20:35
35 In every way I’ve shown you that by laboring like this, it is necessary to help the weak and to keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, for He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Did Oswald Chambers ignore Paul and Jesus’ advice this morning when he said our biggest problem is receiving gifts?
. . . being justified freely by His grace . . . —Romans 3:24
The Gospel of the grace of God awakens an intense longing in human souls and an equally intense resentment, because the truth that it reveals is not palatable or easy to swallow. There is a certain pride in people that causes them to give and give, but to come and accept a gift is another thing. I will give my life to martyrdom; I will dedicate my life to service— I will do anything. But do not humiliate me to the level of the most hell-deserving sinner and tell me that all I have to do is accept the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God through our own efforts. We must either receive it as a gift or do without it. The greatest spiritual blessing we receive is when we come to the knowledge that we are destitute. Until we get there, our Lord is powerless. He can do nothing for us as long as we think we are sufficient in and of ourselves. We must enter into His kingdom through the door of destitution.
No. Paul and Jesus are speaking to our sinful desire to withhold service from others in order to focus our sacrifice on our selves alone.
Oswald is speaking to our sinful desire to make it on our own. We like giving help when we want to. We hate having to ask for help when we don’t want to.
We are awesome at sin. 
We can do it in refusing help and in refusing to help others.
High five world.
Worldwide Pride. 
Woot! Woot!
Until we realize that we need God to save us, we will not ask Him to do it. We will not rely on Him daily to secure and manifest it in us. We will not pursue Him as one loved. We will do lip service to “needing” Him while living like He doesn’t exist.
Your perception of God ‘s love hinges dramatically on this question.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

secret Santa or secret Satan?

This morning I read this challenge from Oswald.
. . whatever you do, do all to the glory of God — 1 Corinthians 10:31
In the Scriptures, the great miracle of the incarnation slips into the ordinary life of a child; the great miracle of the transfiguration fades into the demon-possessed valley below; the glory of the resurrection descends into a breakfast on the seashore. This is not an anticlimax, but a great revelation of God.
We have a tendency to look for wonder in our experience, and we mistake heroic actions for real heroes. It’s one thing to go through a crisis grandly, yet quite another to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, and no one paying even the remotest attention to us. If we are not looking for halos, we at least want something that will make people say, “What a wonderful man of prayer he is!” or, “What a great woman of devotion she is!” If you are properly devoted to the Lord Jesus, you have reached the lofty height where no one would ever notice you personally. All that is noticed is the power of God coming through you all the time.
We want to be able to say, “Oh, I have had a wonderful call from God!” But to do even the most humbling tasks to the glory of God takes the Almighty God Incarnate working in us. To be utterly unnoticeable requires God’s Spirit in us making us absolutely humanly His. The true test of a saint’s life is not successfulness but faithfulness on the human level of life. We tend to set up success in Christian work as our purpose, but our purpose should be to display the glory of God in human life, to live a life “hidden with Christ in God” in our everyday human conditions (Colossians 3:3). Our human relationships are the very conditions in which the ideal life of God should be exhibited.

If I tell you that I have a secret, the assumption in our society is that this is bad news. If I have a secret that is about to be exposed, the assumption is that I am about to be embarrassed.

This says two very powerful things about us.

(1) We more often than not have secret sin that goes unconfessed. So much so that if someone articulated that we were going to gather together because someone had discovered a secret about you, you would dread going to this meeting. What is it that they know? How did they find it out? What will everyone do when they find out? We keep secrets more often than not because we know we are wrong. We know that people are depraved. We know it because we know it about ourselves.

(2) More often than not, even Christians fail to follow Jesus’ advice in doing good works for the sake of God and not merely for approval. We do not have nearly as many good secrets as we do bad secrets. The only things we tend to keep secret are bad things. We tend to speak loudly and often about good things we do and have done. Most of us could benefit from having more secret service. It would do us well to intentionally do some things for the sake of service to God and our neighbor in ways that cannot afford us credit. But we do not seek to do good in secret. We seek to do bad in secret.
We should have more secrets. Christian secrets. Good works of service that only God sees. We should demonstrate our belief and faith in God more by serving in ways that present themselves. Simply doing the task at hand will often go overlooked. By most. But God sees all. Place faith in Him Who knows and rewards those who earnestly seek Him, believing He rewards those who do so

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

jamie's got THIS under control

'Tis the season for trolling the nets lookin' for tasty treats.

I found one HERE.

Merry Christmas!

getting over your elf on the shelf self

I am looking around at piles of stuff and even more piles of stuff that used to be wrapped around the other piles of stuff.

I love that people love us.
I can't help but feel, however, that Xmas got lost among all the Xmas.

Somewhere under all the vacant boxes and red printed paper shrapnel is the essence of self.

My kids plowed through gifts as though they were on an assembly line.  The only appreciation of what was being opened was the opportunity to tear through the next item in line.  Go.go.go.  More.more.more

I watched my children exhibit that same quality I possess. 

We need Jesus. 
Xmas proves it.

Not only the fact that it is the day we recognize His coming, but also the way we have chosen to memorialize that event by indulging our desire to build bigger barns without Him. 

We needed someone to come from outside to save us on the inside.  He came from Heaven to earth.  He left glory to become a baby.

We celebrate His gracious act of humility and mercy by denying ourselves nothing. We eulogize the death of the Man who said, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. (Luke 9:23-24)" by giving people things they don't need in the Name of Him who is the only gift worth receiving.  We set down our cross and pick up our appetite and call it Christmas.

Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.  Especially today amidst the piles of things that would gladly steal my affections and tempt my heart to take comfort not in the presence of a baby, but in the presents under the tree.

Yeah, I know.
It's a Jesus Juke.

But it's legit.
2 legit 2 quit.
But we must.

The baby in the manger gave up everything good to become bad that we who are bad may be called good before God.  If we love Him, we strive to be like Him and do like He did.  Not because the world needs more selfless people, but because Jesus is worthy of our sacrifice.


No "L"?

What the "L"? 
Hey, back off punny boy.

But I digress.

(as a word of caution, the following video does contain a few cuss words, but the sentiment portrayed is one worth taking note)

We laugh at simple-minded Ricky Bobby as he refers to Jesus as a baby because its ridiculous, but we often do the very same thing in our own way and a Ricky Bobby baby Jesus Christmas is not so far off base for some.

Today many will pay lip service to Jesus by caricaturizing Him to whatever fits their particular fancy.

Most people like the Jesus who lets kids sit on His lap while telling Pharisees to stop throwing rocks at whores because "no one's perfect."

Most people like the Jesus who dies on the Cross for our sins. 
Most people even have a necklace with Him doing this on it.

Most people, however, (particulary Americans) do not like the Jesus who tells the rich young ruler to sell all his possessions. They do not like the Jesus who requires a person to abandon all else if they are to follow Him into eternity. They do not like the Jesus who has a robe dipped in blood and a sword for a tongue. 

Most people like the Jesus they have created in their own mind. 
Most people have created a Jesus who is an idol instead of the LORD.
Most people imagine Jesus likes what they like and dislikes what they dislike. 
Most people don't know Jesus.

Bah Humbug!

Today we celebrate the birth of the single most hated/adored/misunderstood/caricaturized man in the history fo the world. 

Also, He was God.
So if you have a problem with Him, that's your fault.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012


I ain't no holla-back grrl. 
For so many reasons.

But i thought I'd change up the look a little for 2013.
Ya know, to keep your eyes coming back.

It's my gift to you.
(if by "you" i mean "me." which i do)

Merry Christmas!

merry madvent, gay Christmas‏

Recently my distant and impersonal friend Jon Acuff had the audacity to point out that Christmas is not about the “the war on Christmas” as much as it is about Jesus.

You can see the nuclear fallout HERE.


He concluded, “Should you say “Merry Christmas?” Sure, I think that phrase is awesome, but let’s not pretend that angels get wings when you do.”

Welcome to Madvent.

This reminds me more of secret password Jesus
than it does “the reason for the season.”
Besides, I think people are focusing on the wrong word.
Everyone gets all bent out of shape over "holiday" being substituted for "Christmas.".
My beef, however, is with “Merry.”
Who even says that?

It’s your birthday:
Merry Birthday. Nope. Fail.

It’s your anniversary:
Merry Anniversary. Nope. Fail.

It’s your graduation party:
Congrats Grad. But I digress…

Let’s change the culture.
I’m with you culture warrior.
Let's get bent out of shape.
Let's get bent!
But let’s attack them where they never expected:

Gay Christmas!
Yeah, that’s right.

Gay still means happy or cheerful.
Remember? We used to deck the halls with our gay apparel.

Hey, the gay nation has already co-opted our rainbows, our doves, and our parades,
Well, the first two at least were ours first.

Let’s recover our words and our holiday all in one fell swoop.

Here’s to a very Gay Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2012



11 AM CST, 12/21/12 came and went without incident.

Nice work Mayans.

Turns out He doesn't punch your timeclock, you punch His.

with this, be this and do that‏

1 Peter 1:13

13 Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance.

Everyone prior to Peter’s generation looked forward in faith to the day God would make manifest His Gospel promised to them first in Genesis 3. This plan was revealed and fulfilled completely in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Peter is writing to a church that is suffering bodily and mentally the anguishes of extreme persecution. All of these sufferings could go away with a renunciation of their faith. Peter reminds his flock that Jesus suffered many things unjustly in delivering us from that which we justly deserved. In suffering like Him, we know Him more. It is in light of this reality that Peter begins verse 13 in summary by stating, “Therefore…”

We cannot forecast each and every trial that we may face. But we can be assured that the temptation to abandon Christ will be presented to us often. Our hearts have in themselves unfulfilled desires. We begin to melt our gold and cast a mold. We begin to make god out of a gift we desire. We want something that can only be given to us and we lust after it. If in ignorance we do not acknowledge this quality about ourselves or in arrogance assume we are above it, we will find ourselves like Aaron: totally dumbfounded.

Exodus 32:24

24 So I said to them, ‘Whoever has gold, take it off,’ and they gave it to me. When I threw it into the fire, out came this calf!”

Or in other words:

“I was all like, ‘Let’s pool all of our gold together, make a mold of a cow, melt the gold down, pour it into the mold, let it cool, carefully remove it from the mold, and worship the image of the golden cow we just made.’ So they did what I said and after we did all of that, we had this calf. It is very curious, isn’t it? Anyways, as you can clearly see, this isn’t my fault! How could I have known it would play out this way?”
*** Thank you VVCSV for that clarification.

What did you think was going to happen Aaron? Some stuff is unforeseen. I will grant you that. This was not.

But I digress.
Back to Peter.

It is not unreasonable to think that you will come across temptations. These will likely be for good things. After all, temptations are usually simply our desire to make god things out of good things. Whatever we worship is our opinion of what is best (at least for us). It is not that sex, money, power, authority, or comfort are wrong. It is that they are NOT GOD!

I have never been so disappointed with things as when I assign to them godlike qualities and they do not come through. When people are not perfect, I get discouraged. When my car is not dependable, I get discouraged. When my children rebel, I get discouraged. This is not to say that discouragement is not legit in some of these cases, but rather my point is to emphasize that the more you are tempted to worship something or someone other than God, the more conflict you are preparing yourself to face with regard to that person and/or thing.

Get your mind ready for action. You are going to face temptations to stray away from Jesus. Do not be too proud as to believe this about yourself.

Because God has in good faith made good on His promise, be serious. Make every effort to find your heart and mind in concert with that in you that makes much of Jesus alone. How serious are you about addressing your sin in Jesus? How serious are you about anchoring your hope in Jesus? Let’s get real. Let’s get serious. There is too much at stake. This is not child’s play. This is big boy pants kind of stuff. Grow up. Please, for the love of God and your love of Christ, grow up.

Set your hopes completely on the grace of God revealed in Christ. Be careful to guard against former desires. Be careful to avoid casting molds for future idolatry. Be on guard against the old man within who was trained in unrighteousness and is eager to return to it.

Because God has done what He said He would do, place your mind, actions, heart, and hopes in what He has promised He will do today and tomorrow. God promises that those who aim for salvation by setting their mind on Jesus will find it. No one who by grace through faith seeks God in Jesus will be denied. This is not merely a hope for when we die. This is a hope for enduring through today.

Peter said it this way a few verses earlier:

1 Peter 1:8-9

8 You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy,9 because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

the trials of being alive vs. the trials of being reborn

This morning Chambers had a very powerful reminder of what faith is and isn't in My Utmost for His Highest

Faith by its very nature must be tried, and the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character has to be cleared in our own minds. Faith in its actual working out has to go through spells of unsyllabled isolation. Never confound the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life, much that we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive. Faith in the Bible is faith in God against everything that contradicts Him – I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do.

Faith is not believing in magic. Faith is believing God. Faith is hearing what God says about Himself, about the world, about us, about you and about His Son and believing it. Believing God will look like something. You are not born believing God. You are not born His child. You are born by nature and soon after by choice in sin and self absorption. In other words, at our conception the self is born. Only later, if by grace you are given faith, you die to this self and are reborn to God in Christ.

In this life we go through many trials and tribulations. Chambers points out that a good deal of these are simply just part of being alive. In these, we are like our neighbor in every way. We are all in this particular dilemma together. However, the trials of faith are unique to those who through faith and by grace persevere in proving that God's Gospel is mighty to save, even someone like you.

Are you so committed to God that you really believe He is both Sovereign and Good? 
Can He do whatever He wants and still receive your gratitude and worship for Who He is? Do you doubt He can do what He wants? 
Do you doubt that what He wants to do is good? 

These are the trials of faith. 

When common sense and modern sentiments are in direct conflict with what God says about Himself and you by faith place your lot with Jesus; this is faith. It is not always a simple matter of disbelieving the spirit of the age, but a constant matter of believing that God is Who He says He is.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

the Good News is good because the bad news is bad

Ecclesiastes 7:20

Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

Well that certainly seems a bit much. I know some good people. I think I'm a decent person. I know there are some dirtbags out there and I am glad to not be one of them.

Romans 3:10-12

as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands; no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."

I am not worthless. I have done some good things. I know some good people. The Bible is judgmental. I don't like being judged. I thought the Bible told people not to judge. The Bible is being a jerk wad.

Ecclesiastes 7:29

See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.

So God made me to be upright? Why am I so messed up then? That's not my fault. How can He possibly hold me accountable for things that were out of my control? These verses seem to imply that God has standards for me that I could not keep even if I wanted to. I don't really want to right now, but it is discouraging to think that even if I wanted to I would fall short. If that is the case, why even try? Again, God and His Bible sound like an overbearing jerk wad.

Ephesians 2:1-10

2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Well that. Hmm... Well that sounds like Good News.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

go panthers!

Team Van Voorst is on the move and coming to a town near you.

(assuming you or your town are near the CF/W)

Read all about it HERE.

the end.

Hebrews 9:27

27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment
My brother Terry died his one time last Wednesday (12/12) around 3 am.
My wife's grandfather, Roland, died his one time this evening (12/18) around 7:30 pm.
Life is short and "after that comes judgment."
Only in Jesus is that judgment rendered "innocent, blameless, forgiven."
Without Jesus that judgment can only be rendered "guilty."
No one is good enough to outgrow their need for Jesus.
No one is bad enough to outrun the reach of Jesus.
If you are reading this, know that you too will die. 
And sooner than you think.
What would the judgment be for you if you died after reading this post?
1 John 5:10-13
10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

telling God what He cannot do‏: an awesome idea (for a fool)

I wonder how many times I read what Oswald Chambers said here without knowing that he was talking about me specifically. I was convinced that the limitations I placed on God were an example of my humility. They weren’t and I wasn’t. It is not good to tell God what He cannot do.
By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain . . . —1 Corinthians 15:10
The way we continually talk about our own inabilities is an insult to our Creator. To complain over our incompetence is to accuse God falsely of having overlooked us. Get into the habit of examining from God’s perspective those things that sound so humble to men.You will be amazed at how unbelievably inappropriate and disrespectful they are to Him. We say things such as, “Oh, I shouldn’t claim to be sanctified; I’m not a saint.” But to say that before God means, “No, Lord, it is impossible for You to save and sanctify me; there are opportunities I have not had and so many imperfections in my brain and body; no, Lord, it isn’t possible.”That may sound wonderfully humble to others, but before God it is an attitude of defiance.
Conversely, the things that sound humble before God may sound exactly the opposite to people. To say, “Thank God, I know I am saved and sanctified,” is in God’s eyes the purest expression of humility. It means you have so completely surrendered yourself to God that you know He is true. Never worry about whether what you say sounds humble before others or not. But always be humble before God, and allow Him to be your all in all.
I resisted God’s gift for a long time because I felt I was not worthy to receive it.
I was right.
I was not worthy to receive it.
That is why He had to die.
That is why He wants me to embrace it by faith.
I wasted so many years wondering how God could love someone like me thinking that it was myself who I was doubting.
The truth is: I knew myself very well. I was not in ignorance as to my faults. I was arrogant in my telling God these faults were too much for Him to reconcile. I resisted His grace by my self-absorption. I was so interested in my own nature and falleness that I failed to focus on His glory and sufficiency.
He has been good to reveal to me that I am not worthy.
He has been better to provide for me worth in the person and work of Christ.
My problem previously was that I acknowledged that I fell short, but placed hope in falling less short.
My hope now is knowing that I fall flat, but knowing that He lifts up the devastated.
He does what only He can do.
He provides what only He can give.
And that is my boast,

Monday, December 17, 2012

self-starters and martyrs‏

Oswald aptly titled this devotional "The Law and the Gospel."

The moral law does not consider our weaknesses as human beings; in fact, it does not take into account our heredity or infirmities. It simply demands that we be absolutely moral. The moral law never changes, either for the highest of society or for the weakest in the world. It is enduring and eternally the same. The moral law, ordained by God, does not make itself weak to the weak by excusing our shortcomings. It remains absolute for all time and eternity. If we are not aware of this, it is because we are less than alive. Once we do realize it, our life immediately becomes a fatal tragedy. “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died” (Romans 7:9). The moment we realize this, the Spirit of God convicts us of sin. Until a person gets there and sees that there is no hope, the Cross of Christ remains absurd to him. Conviction of sin always brings a fearful, confining sense of the law. It makes a person hopeless— “. . . sold under sin” (Romans 7:14). I, a guilty sinner, can never work to get right with God— it is impossible. There is only one way by which I can get right with God, and that is through the death of Jesus Christ. I must get rid of the underlying idea that I can ever be right with God because of my obedience. Who of us could ever obey God to absolute perfection!

We only begin to realize the power of the moral law once we see that it comes with a condition and a promise. But God never coerces us. Sometimes we wish He would make us be obedient, and at other times we wish He would leave us alone. Whenever God’s will is in complete control, He removes all pressure. And when we deliberately choose to obey Him, He will reach to the remotest star and to the ends of the earth to assist us with all of His almighty power.

We must surrender our will to God.
This is often the last thing to go.

We will try out happier thoughts, loftier ideals.
We will give a silver-lining outlook a go.
We will give God a chance to win us over by giving part of ourselves to Him.

But the surrender of our ability to choose for ourselves we will hang on to until the very end.
It is the last battlefield of the soul.

We will do any number of things other than come to Jesus and hand Him the keys of our lives.
We want Jesus as our co-pilot, not our captain.

There is no way to be a worshipper Jesus and yourself.

You will love one and hate the other.

There is no way to be the master of your own life period.
We are slaves.
Either to sin or to Jesus.
There are no other options.

2 Peter 2:19b 
...people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.

To whom or to what do you place yourself under?
One must submit to someone or something.
What controls you?

What compels you?
What must get done before the day is done?
Where are your priorities?
What would you never do?
What do you always do?

For most, these questions are largely anchored in one's own agenda.

But for the Christian, it must be Christ's agenda alone.

At all costs.
At all times.
At all places. 
All for Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:14

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.

Friday, December 14, 2012

debunking default desires by divinely distributed despair (peep the pastoral wizardry of the chiasmus)

Ecclesiastes 6:7

7 All man’s labor is for his stomach,
yet the appetite is never satisfied.
Without God’s grace, we strive tirelessly to achieve that which cannot be accomplished. We desire our desires to be fulfilled. We like having desires, but not without having them realized. Being hungry is good only inasmuch as having access to food is possible. Our appetite drives us. We work to get money to buy food to eat to give us energy to work to get money to buy food.
But is that it? Are we so thoughtless and consumed by the daily procuring of provision for ourselves that we miss the target to which this design aims?
Those who worship appetite cannot ever be satisfied. It is impossible. It is tireless, relentless, futile work. You cannot eat so much today as to never be hungry again. You cannot indulge so much today as to not require by necessity another rest stop refreshment in the future. It cannot be accomplished. You are striving after wind.
This is not my way of telling you that you have a God-shaped hole in your heart that can only be filled by His Holy Spirit. This is my way of telling you that you are a butthole who daily strives for that which is passing by you because you do not desire the impassable things of God.

You prefer waste to grace. 
Style to substance.
Preference to provision.
All that we do is aimed at getting what we want. 
This is the best we can do. 

You will by default only do what you want unless you are confronted by and conformed to the image of Christ. Only then will you face for the first time the conflict of doing that which you no longer desire to do and the dilemma of discouragement that accompanies having done it.

It is a blessed despair. One that drives us daily to the provision of God in Christ on our behalf as our only source of consistent hope. 
Until then, you will be driven only by you and what you want, whatever that may be. You cannot separate you from you. You cannot Google earth yourself. You are always at street level. Only in receiving a Spirit from above can you see how far beneath God your desires now are.
He does not desire to merely be along for the ride.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

a hand would be an even harder thing to give

Ecclesiastes 4:6
6 Better one handful with rest
than two handfuls with effort and a pursuit of the wind.
Contentment is not a result of finally getting what you want.
Two handfuls are better than one, right? I suppose it depends on what you are trying to accomplish. 
Two handfuls are better than one if you are in a “how many handfuls” contest, I suppose. However, two handfuls are not better than one if you are in a “lend-a-hand” contest.
To me, it's a good idea to always carry two sacks of something when you walk around. That way, if anybody says, "Hey, can you give me a hand?" You can say, "Sorry, got these sacks." ~ Jack Handey
If your hands are full, you have no intention or ability to lend a hand to another. If you lose your grip on something in one of your hands and your first impulse is to try to fill that hand up again, your heart is aimed at grabbing what you want at the cost of serving others to help them get what they need.
Contentment is not something that can be wrangled by sheer will power and effort. You cannot clamor for contentment fittingly enough.
The hard work of contentment is not in getting stuff, but in releasing stuff.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

resting assured when the rest aren't so sure

What the 12 is going on in here today?

12 tribes of Israel.
12 apostles of Jesus.
12 days of Christmas.

I could go on, but it's only 12/12/12 today..

Enjoy it while it lasts and remember to get your 12 on.


John 16:33

33 I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

Jesus never told us that life would be rainbows and butterflies, even for those who follow Him. In fact, He guaranteed life would be made more difficult precisely as a result of following Him.

Whether we follow Him or not, sin will make this life difficult. This occurs in two ways: we are sinned against and we sin against others.  Greed, selfishness, carelessness, anger, hate, and gossip cut both ways. We experience them internally and externally.  We are the victims and the perpetrators of all these.  

This life is full of disappointment whether you love Jesus or not. The point of following Jesus is not experiencing freedom from disappointment, but freedom from judgment.  Do not flee from Jesus because things get tough.  Flee to Him.

May your sufferings today draw you closer to God. May your heart grow softer as your sufferings become greater. The tendency for us all is to become harder and more bitter or resilient the greater the trial we face. It is by grace that we are given faith to overcome this world because Jesus already conquered it.

May God in His mercy grant you faith to believe in Him today as you bear up under that which has got you down. May He be lifted up even in these circumstances where you are already found kneeling out of exhaustion and despair. And since you're down there anyways, may you pray.  May you find yourself in the perfect place of petition in prayer before and under God - not in your own entitlement seeking to be yourself uplifted, but exalting His Name from your knees..

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

that poor bull: Chambers keeps drilling him right in his eye‏

Chambers struck gold again in My Utmost for His Highest  when he noted:

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. —Roman 5:10

I am not saved by believing; I realize I am saved by believing. It is not repentance that saves me, repentance is the sign that I realize what God has done in Christ Jesus. The danger is to put the emphasis on the effect instead of on the cause. It is my obedience that puts me right with God, my consecration. Never! I am put right with God because prior to all, Christ died. When I turn to God and by belief accept what God reveals I can accept, instantly the stupendous Atonement of Jesus Christ rushes me into a right relationship with God; and by the supernatural miracle of God’s grace I stand justified, not because I am sorry for my sin, not because I have repented, but because of what Jesus has done. The Spirit of God brings it with a breaking, all-over light, and I know, though I do not know how, that I am saved.

The salvation of God does not stand on human logic, it stands on the sacrificial Death of Jesus. We can be born again because of the Atonement of Our Lord. Sinful men and women can be changed into new creatures, not by their repentance or their belief, but by the marvelous work of God in Christ Jesus which is prior to all experience. The impregnable safety of justification and sanctification is God Himself. We have not to work out these things ourselves; they have been worked out by the Atonement. The supernatural becomes natural by the miracle of God; there is the realization of what Jesus Christ has already done“It is finished.”

Even if your effort and energy never lagged. Even if you were broken-hearted constantly before God to the full extent of your betrayal. Even if you tried your hardest always. Even if you claimed nothing but depravity before God. Even then, none of that could save. The sine qua non is Christ crucified and risen again. If Jesus did not die, your zeal and your tears both account for nothing before God. If they could, Christ died for no reason.

This is the Good News.

How repentant is repentant enough to be accepted before God?
How much belief in God is belief enough?
Neither a measure of repentance or belief will count for anything before God if not for Christ first and foremost on our behalf.

Repentance and belief are necessary conditions of salvation.
If you are unrepentant and disbelieving, you cannot be saved.
But even if you are repentant and believe in God, your repentance and belief fall short if He does not complete for you the work of salvation on Calvary.

When we say we “fall short,” we typically mean we sin by behaving badly.

When the Bible says we “fall short,” it means we sin by being bad.

We don’t do bad things, we are bad people who sometimes do good things and most of the time do what bad people do.

We need a Savior to do for us that which we cannot do for ourselves. Until by the grace of God we anchor ourselves in this, we are lost to lives of passionate rebellion, prideful religion, or some combination thereof ending in death.

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Romans 8:6

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

Romans 8:8

Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.