Tuesday, December 31, 2013

day no. 12,853: commonplace Christianity is not without the Christ‏

Early morning,dead guys and old words = good times.
The things that Jesus did were of the most menial and commonplace order, and this is an indication thatit takes all God’s power in me to do the most commonplace things in His way. Can I use a towel as He did? Towels and dishes and sandals, all the ordinary sordid things of our lives, reveal more quickly than anything what we are made of.It takes God Almighty Incarnate in us to do the meanest duty as it ought to be done.
The Christian life cannot be lived outside of Christ living in you.

Galatians 2:20

…I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
To live a life worthy of the Gospel (Eph 4:1, Php 1:27) requires Christ.
Do not become so focused upon the Christian that you forget the Christ in the process. Yes, there is a right response to what God has revealed. Receiving what He has done will involve reorienting your life for sure. But it is not done on your own or without the One for whom you determined to change in the first place. It is not, “all of this we will do (Ex 24:3),” it’s “all of this You have done. Lead me and change me and be with me as I live out of that reality.”

Monday, December 30, 2013

day no. 12,852: paul was a person‏

Colossians 4:18

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

Maybe Paul dictated the bulk of this letter and then personally penned the final words. Perhaps that’s what he means by injecting such declarative information at the end of this letter. Or maybe he wrote the whole thing and felt the need to point that out. Either way, Paul’s hands touched this parchment at some point in the process. Paul had handwriting. I wonder if it was good handwriting. My handwriting is horrible. If I had anything of worth to write down and did not have a computer, I’d find someone to dictate for me - someone hopefully with better handwriting than mine of course. Either way, I find it inspiring to consider the “everydayness” of Paul writing letters. His hands moved an instrument across a medium to create a message. He was a person, like me and you, who wrote stuff down.

The humanity contained in the simple plea to “remember my chains” is almost a little unsettling. How much weight is captured by the plain request to remember Paul’s handcuffed hands (or ankles or whatever) in prison. I don’t know if he wanted them to remember to send food and clothing since most people in prison back then were not supported by the authoritative structure that sentenced them as is done in our western culture. If no one supported you, you died in prison perhaps. Or perhaps he is wanting them to be emboldened in their own faith. If Jesus is worth anything, He’s worth everything! Maybe Paul wanted these few words to communicate a simple truth: Jesus IS worth everything… even these chains. Maybe it’s because he didn’t introduce himself as a slave of Jesus in his greeting to the Colossians in chapter 1 that he visits the subject on the back end. Maybe it was just because he was lonely, in jail, writing letters to the people he cared most about because he was prevented from seeing them face to face (because of his chains).

The man whose chains deserve remembering, who wrote this greeting with his own hand asked God to provide peace for you. Grace be with you. Maybe he is hoping the same chained fate did not await his friends. Maybe he hoped they would be refreshed by new mercy and grace enough to endure imprisonment if that should be coming their way as well. Either way, he ends his letter inviting grace to be integral to their lives, for it to be “with” them. Grace is in Christ alone. Paul was a guy who needed grace to be saved. He wanted his friends to depend upon grace as well, taking it with them into their homes, into their workplaces, into the market and into their hearts and minds.

The combination of simplicity/profundity, humanity/supernaturalness in these closing words is astounding. I had not before considered them so deeply until my friend Josh pointed out the phrase “remember my chains.” What a world of words is contained in that simple phrase. Funny how I’ve found a way to write as much as I have about something Paul communicated with so little words. Paul was a person, a person who loved Jesus. The end.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

day no. 12,851: 4 months and 6 monks

Happy 4 month birthday today to my little lovely Laurelai.  She is a cutey patooty and I'm so excited to get to know her and hear all the little things she will say and watch all the silly things she will do.  I love being a dad.  LOVE being a dad.

In other news, Candeo recently posted the video of our "Monks of Munchhausen" skit from the Christmas production.  Enjoy!

I'm the monk who leads the procession into the auditorium if you want to follow me throughout.  I have the "shh!!" sign and am at first directing the "choir."

This was a lot of work, but it was SO MUCH FUN!

Friday, December 27, 2013

day no. 12,849: if Jesus is worth anything, He is worth everything‏

"If Jesus is worth anything, He is worth everything." ~ Matthew Henry
In reviewing PHP 1:27-30 for an upcoming SALT sermon teacher's meeting, I came across this quote by Mattthew Henry. Granted, in his commentary he said specifically, "if our religion is worth anything, it's worth everything," in reference to Paul's exhortation in verse. 27:

"Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ."
Is Jesus worth anything to you?
Is He everything to you?
He is not simply something to anyone.

He is not an app you download.
He is not an accessory to complete the look.
He is nobody's co-pilot.
If He is anything, He is everything.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

day no. 12,848: follow Me (from beginning to end)

Matthew 4:19

19 “Follow Me,” He told them, “and I will make you fish for people!”

Jesus called Peter to put down his nets and follow Him. Peter's life began the moment he cast aside his nets and began to follow Jesus. No longer a man fishing for a living, he was living for the fishing of others.

John 21:19

He said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God. After saying this, He told him, “Follow Me!”

After 3 1/2 years of following Jesus, the simplicity off the call remained the same, "follow Me."

We never graduate beyond the simplicity or profundity of those words.

The whole of the Christian life could be summed up by "follow Me."

Not "catch up to Me!" or ""see if you can't grab Me," but "follow."

From wherever you are, in whatever you're doing, from whatever you've done, to wherever you're hoping to go: stop and follow Jesus.

You are never outside His reach or His simple invitation that begins, sustains and perseveres your life to the very end in Him.

Follow Jesus.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

day no. 12,847 continued... john and mary both said, "amen."

Revelation 22:20

He who testifies about these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.”

Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

All who believe in Jesus are excited for Him to come back.  He is coming.  John’s response should be our response: “May it be so! Come soon Jesus. Please!”

Revelation 22:21

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

The last word of the Bible is “Amen,”

Amen literally means “so be it.”

The Bible ends with the way we should respond with our hearts and heads and hands and hope.

So be it Lord, just as You have said.

That was Mary’s response to God’s plan.  The angel told her what was going to happen.  It was God’s will.  It was going to ruin the life she knew and the life she had planned.  It brought with it uncertainty.  It promised Sovereign eternal security. 

Luke 1:38

“I am the Lord’s slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to Your Word.”

Let that be your response today too.

Merry Christmas!

day no. 12,847: can you read the signs?

So sometimes when I see signs, I have questions.

For example:

Why is the guy in the wheelchair so small?
Why is the guy who can walk so tall?
You decide.

Is this what synchronized swimmers do in the off season?
What does Team Lift do after they lift the box with their logo on itt?
Why am I any safer for having watched these guys lift this box?
Can I join Team Lift? It looks really relaxing.
What was this guy doing immediately before the fire came out the door?
If you are flammable and have legs, are you ever blocking a fire exit?
Is it OK to only block one exit as long as you block just the one?
How lame does that guy run?
Who would set the exits on fire?

Monday, December 23, 2013

day no. 12,845 continued... the Bible will keep you from sin and sin will keep you from the Bible

"The Bible will keep you from sin and sin will keep you from the Bible." ~ Richard Chorpening

Paige's grandfather dropped this gem on us on a recent Thanksgiving visit to my wife's hometown.  He saw it written on the inside cover of his mom's Bible.  Her name was Zita.  Her sister's name was Zella.  They were twins. Those are awesome German names. 

If you want to know how to be cleansed, you will need to read and hear about Jesus' perfect life and death and resurrection on your behalf.  The Bible is the Word of the Lord that stands forever and this Word is the Good News (Gospel) that was preached to you (1 Peter 1:24-25).

As a regenerated, reborn person adopted as a child of God, you will want to read His Word to hear from Him.  You will want to know what He says about life and livelihood in order to conform your life to His good will for you.

If you are in unrepentant sin, you will want to stear clear of the Word.  The Gospel is foolishness and godliness is an offense to your current lifestyle.

Our relation to our sin and our relation to the Bible are related.

day no. 12,845: Jesus in me and for me

Earlier this morning I touched base with my dead friend Oswald. He had this to say from the grave today.

When I commit myself to the revelation made in the New Testament, I receive from God the gift of the Holy Spirit Who begins to interpret to me what Jesus did and does in me subjectively all that Jesus Christ did for me objectively.

This is a phenomenal way of condensing a difficult idea into a quick quip.

The Holy Spirit interprets to me what Jesus did and does and this occurs subjectively.  It is abstract, but substantial. It is sanctification.

What Jesus did in His perfect life and sacrificial death occurred objectively in documented history.  It is concrete, but supernatural.  It is our justification.

How the magnitude of what He did on a particular day on a particular cross on a particular hill at a particular time is translated and interpretted and infused into my specific heart and mind day after day in my life is a subjective process accomplished by the work of God by His Holy Spirit on our behalf.

When I commit, I receive the Spirit Who interprets to me what Jesus did and does in me by what He already did for me.

So good.

Friday, December 20, 2013

day no. 12.842: when you commit to Jesus for salvation, you also commit to His worldview‏

Always nice to spend time with old friends.

We are apt to forget that a man is not only committed to Jesus Christ for salvation; he is committed to Jesus Christ’s view of God, of the world, of sin and of the devil, and this will mean that he must recognize the responsibility of being transformed by the renewing of his mind.

Too many attempt to receive Jesus without changing their prior way of thinking. You cannot call Jesus "Lord" and then dismiss entirely His way of seeing the world. Your worldview must be that of Jesus' if you want to be His disciple.

Do not take the arrogant and defiant position of allowing Jesus to save you, but resisting His authority to guide you.

If you and Jesus disagree on anything, guess what?
You're wrong.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

day no. 12,841: do not recline on your resume‏

I was spending some time this morning with my friend Oswald Chambers when he said,
The most difficult person to deal with is the one who has the smug satisfaction of an experience to which he can refer back, but who is not working it out in practical life. If you say you are sanctified, show it. The experience must be so genuine that it is shown in the life. Beware of any belief that makes you self-indulgent; it came from the pit, no matter how beautiful it sounds.
We do not graduate from Christianity.
Our assurance cannot rest in a confession. Our words are too weak and ineffective as to capture the entire weight of our sin. We cannot lift the weight of our sin onto the altar.
We can only find rest in Christ.
It is not trying your best and letting Jesus complete the rest.
It’s not resting on what you have already done.
It’s being arrested in Him and the rest He accomplished already.
Do not recline on your resume’.
It will betray you, no matter how accomplished it may be.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

day no. 12,840: wordsmithin': hapax legomenon‏

Extra! Extra! Read all about it HERE.
hap•ax le•go•me•non n.pl.
1. a word that occurs only once within a context, either in the written record of an entire language, in the works of an author, or in a single text.
I know, what the what?
I didn’t know it either.
I heard Driscoll say it HERE.
I was able to guess its spelling based on what I thought I heard him say.
I believe I typed in hopox lag… then Google was great to chime in, “did you mean hapax legomenon?”
Yes, I did Google.
Thanks for the heads up.
It was in reference to a word Paul uses in Philippians which I have discussed before HERE.
I love learning new stuff!
Hapax Legomenon.
Nice to meet you.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

day no. 12,839 continued... a message for expecting mothers‏

(FYI - this was written months before Laurelai was born.  We are not pregnant again.  At the moment.  As far as I know.)

I was praying for my expecting wife this morning as any day we’re due with our fourth child. Sleepless nights are ahead. I know how hard they will be. It is so difficult to serve and to sacrifice sleep for the sake of someone else who just won’t do what’s best for them, often refusing to receive and rest when it’s clearly what is best for everyone involved. I then began thinking about Jesus and Paul and how they, though single men, knew a great deal about being up all night for the sake of ministering to others.

I thought this could be very helpful to you in reflecting upon them as examples in different ways. Jesus stayed up all night praying for people. He was awake because He needed to feed His sheep.
Luke 6:12

During those days He went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God.

Jesus can relate to being up all hours of the night for the purpose of serving others. In those tireless hours, He was drawing near to God and feeding Himself on heavenly bread in order to be stronger in serving those He came to place Himself under. His sheep required constant care and could not and still cannot do anything without Him. They are entirely dependent upon Him for everything. They never learn how to feed themselves. They never learn to rest when they ought. They never walk without help. They are constantly in need of being carried around. They cry and exaggerate the most pedestrian of circumstances. They are self-centered, ungrateful and selfish. But He is kind to even those (LK 6:35). He stays up and loses sleep and serves and empties Himself so that we can be fed, get rest, walk and survive. Without Him we faint. With Him we flourish.

Then I turned my thoughts to Paul. He was a man, like us. He was not God. Yet he took upon himself sleepless night of prayer and petition. He purposely put himself in positions that resulted in him losing sleep or being up all night for the sake of ministering to others. In his list of hardships, he recounts…

2 Corinthians 11:27
labor and hardship,
many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst,
often without food, cold, and lacking clothing.
Paul went without so that some might have something worth having. In this manner, He was like a nursing mother who was constantly concerned by even the slightest peep or whimper he heard coming from his beloved children of faith. He was attentive to them. He disciplined them and fed them. He trained them and gave himself constantly for them. Paul ends his list of sufferings by stating…
2 Corinthians 11:28
Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my care for all the churches.
It was pressure. It was hard. It was probably the most difficult weight he dealt with daily. He can relate to a mother caring for her child: giving everything in order to help an infant grow up.
I know that there are some difficult days ahead. Rather than preparing for them by pretending they will not come, I thought it best to equip you with the grace of those who have so faithfully given of themselves for others by the power of God at work within them.

Jesus has stayed up all night in order to feed His sheep.
Paul did not rest some nights in order to provide rest and assurance to others.
You are not alone in this.
Jesus and Paul can relate to you and they have much to say regarding perseverance in God’s grace throughout it all.
Take courage and be refreshed by this as you look forward.

day no. 12,839: please listen carefully as our menu options have recently changed‏

Seriously, has anyone’s menu options NOT recently changed?

How often are they changing these things? And Why?

Or better yet, how long are they leaving the “recently changed” message up and running?

Monday, December 16, 2013

day no. 12,838: on a need to know basis

Deuteronomy 29:29
The hidden things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law.
I don’t particularly wrestle with doubt.
Not because I’m lazy, but because I just don’t really.
And it’s not that I have everything figured out.
I’m just somewhat comfortable knowing that I don’t get everything.
That doesn’t stop me from trying to mine from God’s Word truth and knowledge on which to build confidence.
Just the opposite.
I love reading my Bible and studying the texts for rich soil on which to walk.
I wonder if we have a morbid obsession in our society with needing to know stuff.
We have a tendency to be suspicious of any one or situation where someone knows more than we do.
So we wonder about vaccines, raw milk, smoking cigarettes, using cell phones, red meat, raw meat, weapons of mass destruction, left wing, right wing, buffalo wings and everything else in between.
If someone is an expert on something or has knowledge we don’t also get access to, we get suspicious.
And rightfully so.
Good assessment.
People should not be trusted with information.
They will use it for profit, power, prestige and whatever else that gets their pulse pumping.
But we can’t use the same rationale to excuse our suspicion of God.
He isn’t like us.
He already has all power, prestige and possession imaginable and unimaginable.
You can’t outthink His ability to provide you with creativity after all.
It is OK that we don’t know everything.
No one ever said you had to in order to believe.
It’s not that belief is in contrast to thinking and/or knowing, but that it is not contingent upon it per se.
St. Augustine famously said, “therefore do not seek to understand in order to believe, but believe that thou mayest understand.”
There are some things you don’t need to know.
You may never know why.
Do you trust and rely upon the One who does know, however, that is the question.
Can you love a sunset without understanding every element required to produce it?
You don’t demand a rainbow to be boxed in before you appreciate it.
You know how to admire that which is beyond your grasp.
Do not then require God to produce evidence in the court of your opinion.

Friday, December 13, 2013

day no. 12,835: biograffiti‏

I can’t remember a time in my life when I did not know who Jesus was and what He did one day a long time ago on a tree just outside Jerusalem. But I can recall quickly to mind a time more recently than I wish where that did not matter. I wanted Jesus to be real for me when I died, but not for me right now. I was happy to let Him save my life once it was already over. When I moved to Ames, IA in 2001 I took with me the patterns and principles of one who liked Jesus, but did not love Him. So I sinned and lived and lumped it all together hoping for the best someday in some distance future when I had to die. Then God shook me awake. Sleeping people cannot describe sleep and they’re even worse at describing being awake. Awake people are privileged with a perspective that grants them insight into both. I had never seen my sin as bad as it was or God as good as He was. I liked Jesus, but I did not love Him. So I attended meetings about Him when I felt like it, but not when it interrupted something else I wanted to do. Jesus was a priority, not top priority. I made room for Jesus in my life, but when I checked in on Him, He wasn’t there. God woke me up. He was kind and loving enough to go after someone who was happily sleeping. I wasn’t having a nightmare when He woke me. I was hanging out, doing normal stuff like working, playing, watching, hoping, etc… I wasn’t a knife that needed to hit bottom in order to safely be picked up. I was that spoon jammed in the back of the drawer that goes unnoticed until you pack up and move. God was good to give me warm feeling toward His Word and His Son. I was criminal in thinking warm feelings were equal to love. Prisons are full of people who had warm feelings without love. God showed me that He loved me by revealing Himself to me. He opened my eyes to read His Words. I saw my sin. I saw my Savior. And I loved Him. The life I now lead I live hidden in Christ because my wants are changing to want Him more. I do not now love Him the way He deserves. The difference is I now know that. The difference is He now knows me.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

day no. 12,834 continued… my first performance

Words cannot express how excited I am for this.

day no. 12,834: the resurrection of the dead (again)

Luke 9:23

Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

How is it that I learned so well how to resurrect the dead?

I hate my sin.
But I like it a little too.

I just cannot bear to part with my self.

So daily I must die, because daily I resurrect with skill the stone-covered shell cast off from my heart only hours before.

I must die daily because I am a master at resurrecting my flesh.

We must decide how to die today and know that we will again have to die tomorrow.

If it were only dying once, it would be easier (cleaner if you will).

But the daily bloodbath that is the battlefield of my soul wages on and on and on.

You are not done dying if you are not done following Jesus.

I know you just want it to end.
I, too, often want to be done with it.

Don't give up.
Do it again.


Be a disciple.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

day no. 12,833: the love of self is like budging in the line to hell‏

1 Corinthians 16:14
Your every action must be done with love.
Every action with love?
Some days I would do well to do any action out of love!

That is if we’re talking about other people and God.
Every action I currently commit is done out of love...
For me.
I'm a hero at loving myself.
Top shelf.
Loving yourself does not count as this Biblical definition of love.
You are not fulfilling the Law by loving only you.
That is idolatry.
Which is against the Law.
Ephesians 5:29a

For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it…
That’s child’s play.
Loving one’s self is the one thing to which we are fiercely committed come hell or high water from the day we are born.
We will never need to be instructed on how to take ourselves and our self-interests into account.
We do it naturally.
We do it well.
1 Corinthians 15:36

Foolish one! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.

We all sow.
We will all reap.

Die today and tomorrow to yourself and you will live to God now and forever.
Live today and tomorrow for yourself and you will remain dead to God now and forever.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

day no. 12,832: disciplefish.

My friend J. Wise led me to THIS amazing Spurgeon sermon on discipleship and fishing.
I loved this train of thought in particular:
We are like the fishes, making sin to be our element; and the good Lord comes, and with the gospel net he takes us, and he delivers us from the life and love of sin. But he has not wrought for us all that he can do, nor all that we should wish him to do, when he has done this;for it is another and a higher miracle to make us who were fish to become fishers—to make the saved ones saviours—to make the convert into a converter—the receiver of the gospel into an imparter of that same gospel to other people. I think I may say to every person whom I am addressing—If you are saved yourself, the work is but half done until you are employed to bring others to Christ. You are as yet but half formed in the image of your Lord. You have not attained to the full development of the Christ-life in you unless you have commenced in some feeble way to tell to others of the grace of God: and I trust that you will find no rest to the sole of your foot till you have been the means of leading many to that blessed Savior who is your confidence and your hope. His word is—Follow me, not merely that you may be saved, nor even that you may be sanctified; but, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."
“Discipleship” is the flavor of the week in evangelical America right now.
Not without warrant however.
The confession that attenders are not necessarily Christians is a refreshing one.
A Biblical division of discernment rightly being (perhaps for the first time in many circles) applied.
A conversation recently centered around Discipleshift produced this exploration into fishing and being a fish.
We are caught and made into catchers.
We are caught up into Christ to convince others.
Evangelize the unregenerate.
Establish the responsive.
Equip the established to evangelize the unregenerate.

Monday, December 9, 2013

day no. 12,831: a realization of twice as nice‏

I never had anything I wanted to do.
No daydreams of being a doctor.
No desire to be a farmer.
I found music and making music.
I could see myself doing that forever.
So much so that I moved my whole life to Ames, IA.
I left home.
Started over.
All to see if music would work out for me.
It didn’t.
But God introduced Himself to me in Ames, IA.
I met God because He used a radical decision to pursue something I love to introduce me to a better Love.
I returned to having no idea what I wanted to do with my life.
I just knew I wanted to do it for Jesus.
Then He prompted Jacob to harass me to get involved in teaching at the Light (Post-College ministry at Cornerstone in Ames)
I found a new desire.
I wanted to teach and preach and study and spend my days around like-minded men striving to know God and make Him known.
I doubted myself.
I despaired.
The dream did not die.
But it went dormant.
Until my wife began pushing me to consider this deep desire to study and speak about Jesus from the Bible.
So here I am again.
For the second time in my life I’m uprooting my entire life to pursue a desire.
My desire is to be taught and trained to be a ministry leader.
My dream is to do vocationally that which my heart and mind desire to do by my new nature in Christ:
Study, pray, teach, counsel, advise, think, create, conform, contrast, build, destroy all for Jesus all the live long day.
My desire to make music brought me to Ames.
I did not find what I was looking for.
God found me.
My desire to make much of Jesus has led us to Cedar Falls.
Who knows what I may find here and what will find me by the grace of God.
I only today realized this about my life.
Music and Ministry are things I would do all day if allowed.
I have moved my whole life twice now to see if permission would be granted by God to go forward with something I love for Someone I love..

Sunday, December 8, 2013

day no. 12,830: monk practice/mobile church

Today we had practice for the monk sketch we are performing on Thursday evening and Sunday morning for Candeo’s “Come and Worship” Christmas production.  It should be pretty epic.  “As epic as my beard?,” you ask unprompted.  “Yes!,” I say, “Yes a thousand times.”

We wear shorts while practicing as it is quite physically intense and we get our heart-rates up.  However, since we are a mobile church, when all the fun and games are over, someone has to pack and load up everything.  It is awesome to see so many people throwing themselves all in to help.  Yes, it was cold and yes it was Sunday afternoon and yes, I’m guessing everyone would have rather have left an hour earlier to be home under a blanket relaxing or napping.

But this is a church plant and we are seeing a rich harvest from our young plant.  It’s worth it.  It still costs something, but not so much that you look back and wish you had withheld anything.  If anything, it makes you look back and wonder going forward if you can find more to do.

It’s a strange phenomenon this going all in.