Thursday, January 31, 2013

pride and boots

2 John 1:7-9

7 Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves so you don’t lose what we have worked for, but that you may receive a full reward.9 Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it, does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son.

We either have a message worth hearing and following or we don’t.

If we do, then why do you live as though it is merely an addition to your life and not life itself?
Why do you say, “I’m a Christian” and disobey the Christ?
How can you be a disciple of Jesus and not pursue discipline?

There are myriad ways to help yourself out of whatever problem you find yourself in whether as a result of your sin or another’s. You do not need Jesus to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

You just need your pride and some boots.

Either Jesus is worth everything or He is just another thing.

Which is He to you?

If He is just another thing to you, it is no wonder why you feel and believe that you are just another thing to Him.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

czech mates

While "a rose by any other name might still smell as sweet," I thought our friends in the Czech Republic could use some make-up. (or make-believe).

Every tribe, tongue and nation, eh?
We'll see...

the means for giving your utmost for His highest‏

My Utmost for His Highest reminded me again today that God is more kind than I often think Him because I am worse than I often realize.

In Him we have . . . the forgiveness of sins . . . —Ephesians 1:7

Beware of the pleasant view of the fatherhood of God: God is so kind and loving that of course He will forgive us. That thought, based solely on emotion, cannot be found anywhere in the New Testament. The only basis on which God can forgive us is the tremendous tragedy of the Cross of Christ. To base our forgiveness on any other ground is unconscious blasphemy.The only ground on which God can forgive our sin and reinstate us to His favor is through the Cross of Christ. There is no other way! Forgiveness, which is so easy for us to accept, cost the agony at Calvary. We should never take the forgiveness of sin, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and our sanctification in simple faith, and then forget the enormous cost to God that made all of this ours.

Forgiveness is the divine miracle of grace. The cost to God was the Cross of Christ. To forgive sin, while remaining a holy God, this price had to be paid.Never accept a view of the fatherhood of God if it blots out the atonement. The revealed truth of God is that without the atonement He cannot forgive— He would contradict His nature if He did.The only way we can be forgiven is by being brought back to God through the atonement of the Cross. God’s forgiveness is possible only in the supernatural realm.

Compared with the miracle of the forgiveness of sin, the experience of sanctification is small. Sanctification is simply the wonderful expression or evidence of the forgiveness of sins in a human life. But the thing that awakens the deepest fountain of gratitude in a human being is that God has forgiven his sin. Paul never got away from this. Once you realize all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in a vise, constrained by the love of God.

Could I possibly bold and underline more of the above?

Yes, but then you wouldn’t have had the chance to point it out like a big, fat jerkwad.

But I digress…

The most motivated, diligent and faithful servants of God are those who realize the degree to which God loves them in Christ crucified. I know you don’t want to think again bloody thoughts of Jesus being hammered to a tree. I know it is gross and unpleasant and all things considered, you would rather think about hope and love and rainbows and angels. All of those are beautiful and images that should give us great joy and comfort.

But only if Christ died!  

Do not miss Chambers’ point:

God CANNOT FORGIVE you unless Jesus DIED FOR you.

This is the beauty and comfort of penal substitutionary atonement. The punishment (penal) we deserved was paid in full (atonement) by Jesus (our substitute).

Do not miss Chamber’s conclusion:

Only those who get this live in love and confidence before God. Knowing this produces wellsprings of joy and faith to move us toward God and away from sin, toward good works and away from lazy, self-absorbed apathy. 

Does the Christian, on occasion, sin or get lazy? Certainly.

What makes you a Christian is not your ability to follow Jesus, but your desire to follow Him and knowing that even when desire fails, His faithfulness succeeds. This is fueled the Holy Spirit reminding you of Jesus’ death on your behalf and the love of God, our gracious Father, fighting for you.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

thoughts from "Grace Liberates" by Dr. Michael Horton‏

Listen HERE to the full presentation by Dr. Michael Horton from the White Horse Inn.
People often spend the majority of the lives wanting to know the purpose for their lives. We want to know why we're all here and what we specifically are supposed to be doing.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism answers this question this way:
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God,[1] and to enjoy him forever.[2]

We think that knowing our purpose will finally satisfy us. We feel lonely or confused because we do not know what to do. However, what we discover is that we were meant for more
. This seems hopeful at first, until we realize that we do not glorify God in all things or enjoy Him more than anything else always. We may do this sometimes or in some ways, but not always and certainly not as much as He deserves.

Abraham was told that his purpose was to have a child and father many nations. This was good news after waiting a long time to know what God wanted specifically from him. However, Abraham and his wife were barren. They got anxious. They had a purpose in life and they were falling short. So they made a plan to have a child. Abraham slept with Sarah's servant and voila, Ishmael was born. This was sin. Abraham could not bear the weight of the purpose.

Abraham needed a promise. The promise was that God was going to do this. It was not about Abraham's ability to fulfill his purpose on his own, but God's mercy in giving and fulfilling a purpose for Abraham.

Abraham believed God and this was credited to him as righteousness. Not Abraham's ability to fulfill his purpose, but his trust in receiving God's gift of fulfilling his purpose for him.

Romans 4:23-25

23 Now it was credited to him was not written for Abraham alone, 24 but also for us. It will be credited to us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.25 He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Yes you have a purpose. You were made to love God and your neighbor. Because we have a promise from God that in Christ we are forgiven our shortcomings, we can fulfill our purpose with joy. It is not our ability to be purposeful that makes us lovely in the sight of God, but our fragility in confessing our sin and leaning on His gracious gift on our behalf.

We have much for which to be thankful. May you believe the promise of God today and may it fuel your desire to fulfill your purpose: not because you have to do so in slavery to get back to God, but because reconciled to God you get to do so in freedom before Him.

This is not about you.
Not about your purpose.
Not about your failure.

This is about Jesus.

About His victory.
His love.
His gift.

If He has, you are.
If He is, you can.

Monday, January 28, 2013

young teddy roosevelt

Thank you Mrs. Crisler for directing me to this.

Somebody is not too thrilled about having their half-pants memorialized in film.

That said, Teddy does rock a mean capri., eh?

you don't belong in Heaven

Oswald brings out a brilliant point when he states,

Forgiveness doesn’t merely mean that I am saved from hell and have been made ready for heaven (no one would accept forgiveness on that level). Forgiveness means that I am forgiven into a newly created relationship which identifies me with God in Christ. The miracle of redemption is that God turns me, the unholy one, into the standard of Himself, the Holy One. He does this by putting into me a new nature, the nature of Jesus Christ.

I do not know the first thing about the ins-and-outs of running a business. If I was approached on the street and told that I have been selected to run General Electric, I would be floored. I have never applied for a job at GE, let alone, the position of CEO. I am not qualified to run GE. I would point this out feverishly. If their response was to say, “We looked over your resume' and know that you do not have the necessary education or skills to run GE, but we are willing to overlook that in order to give you this opportunity,” I would be SIMULTANEOUSLY very unimpressed with GE’s HR department and terrified. I do not belong in the position of CEO. I know nothing about it.  I do know enough though to do that I would fail at it. It is beyond me and my capacity. I can only fail. The very act of overlooking my inability is what guarantees I will fail. This act of grace becomes the seal on my death warrant. It is not good of GE to overlook my resume. Their grace becomes my doom. I am now subject to penalties and punishments greater than I was exposed before. I now have the power to ruin GE and myself in ways I did not have access to previously. I was in no danger of being imprisoned for tax evasion before; but now, by accident I could end up condemned.

If God simply states He is willing to overlook our spiritual resume in order to allow us into Heaven, we still have the problem that we don’t belong there. We are not qualified to be or live there. We don’t have the capacity.

The grace in setting aside our sins sets us up to be slain.
We cannot be who we are not.

Just because we are sitting in the CEO’s seat, does not mean we are qualified to be sitting there.


God does not set us up for even greater disaster in forgiving our sins.
He forgives us not by pretending we have not sinned, but by paying for them in full in Christ.

Even more so, He provides for us the qualifications earned and extended to us by Christ’s perfect life. He does not make us heirs without first making us a sons.

God would not be wise, just, or kind to overlook my deficit if He did not also make up the difference.

In Christ He perfectly accomplished BOTH.

Because of Christ, we belong.
We belong to God.
We belong with God.

Friday, January 25, 2013

wordsmithin': vapid‏

I love words. Every once in a while I come across one that I cannot help but be excited about using. So “Thank you” in advance for your tolerance and patience as I roll out the first ever “wordsmithin’” segment on O|F|A|D (for the cool kids playin’ at home).

Extra! Extra! Read all about it HERE.

vap·id ~ adj.
1. Lacking liveliness, animation, or interest; dull
2. Lacking taste, zest, or flavor; flat

I don’t remember the first time I heard this word, but I remember it was in reference to Paris Hilton.

Here’s a passage that could rightly said to be capturing the concept behind vapidity.

Hebrews 5:11

11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.

The writer of Hebrews wants to talk to us about true doctrine and guard us against heresy, but we have grown tired of the Pastor (who is over his allotted time…. AGAIN!). We find the dogma to be vapid. No more about belief. Tell me what to do. That gets me excited. No more of what you call meat. Give me something sweet to eat.

Do you find doctrine to be vapid or vibrant?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

the dogma is the drama‏

“The dogma is the drama.” ~ Dorothy Sayers

I have dwelt on this sentiment previously HERE.

We want emotion. 
We want to feel something.
And rightly so.

We are wrong to assume, however, that doctrine is dry.

We want drama.
We want an epic romance.
We want an epic battle.
We want a good story.
And we want to be part of it.

We are.

John 3:16

16 “For God so loved the world] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Now that will preach.

men without chests‏

“In a short of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” ~C.S. Lewis

If there is not a real foundation upon which we can build, it is foolish to discuss in fanatical passion the forms and frameworks we should employ.

We obsess over pragmatic matters while neglecting the essence of the ends at which we aim. I dare to venture that there are more books regarding the best methodologies and machineries available to learn to read than there are books regarding the reason why we should read.

What are we trying to produce?
Who are we trying to honor?
What kind of children do we want to produce?

All that to say...

If my children can blitz through multiplication tables, but do not worship the God of all order, we will have done nothing more than to have created yet another generation of what Lewis calls “men without chests.”

HERE are some great RESOURCES to avoid this error.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

the unforgivable crime is soft hitting

The "Quote Boat" keeps chugging along. 

All aboard!

"...the blamelessness and the fighting edge are not always combined. Both qualities are necessary for the man who is to wage active battle against the powers that prey. He must be clean of life, so that he can laugh when his public or his private record is searched; and yet being clean of life will not avail him if he is either foolish or timid. He must walk warily and fearlessly, and while he should never brawl if he can avoid it, he must be ready to hit hard if the need arises. Let him remember, by the way, that the unforgivable crime is soft hitting. Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

I adore crap like this too.

A lot!

(And wish I was more like it.)

wondering how painful the best will turn out to be

“We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” ~ C.S. Lewis

I heard this on the radio this morning while commuting.

Thank You God for being about my best in becoming and beholding Your Christ more fully.

May Your mercies be not merely for yesterday, but renewed and refreshed today for me.

a light breakfast

I just learned that "consummatum est" is the Latin translation of the Greek "telestai."

I adore crap like that!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

goo goo gaga

thank you Travinci.


the world

penal substitutionary atonement‏

My Utmost for His Highest offered this thought:

The great miracle of the grace of God is that He forgives sin, and it is the death of Jesus Christ alone that enables the divine nature to forgive and to remain true to itself in doing so.It is shallow nonsense to say that God forgives us because He is love. Once we have been convicted of sin, we will never say this again. The love of God means Calvary— nothing less! The love of God is spelled out on the Cross and nowhere else. The only basis for which God can forgive me is the Cross of Christ. It is there that His conscience is satisfied.

God does not forgive our sins because He loves us so much that He can’t help Himself. He is not so infatuated with us that He simply overlooks sin in order to have us. He is not so enamored with us that He pretends we are something we are not.
God is love.
God does love us.

Romans 5:8
8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

In Christ’s death, God can justify the ungodly.

Before the Throne says it this way:

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see him there
Who made an end of all my sin.

Because a sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied

To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me
If you have followed my blog for any amount of time, this will sound very repetitious.
I am not sorry.
In concert with Peter, it is my pleasure to pound this nail over and over.
It may not be anything new, but anchors don’t need to be new; they need to hold.

Monday, January 21, 2013

rescue & redemption

If you don't think this is awesome then you need awesome lessons!

strange love

Do you love strangers?

If not, you are not qualified to be an overseer, pastor, elder, connection/small group leader, or shepherd of God's people.

The word "hospitable" used by Paul in both 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 when listing off the qualifications of the men who were to lead God's people is a word created from the combination of two words: love and stranger.

Hospitality is not simply having people over. 
It's having a particular type of person over.
Persons who are outside the faith, outcast, strangers, foreigners, sojourners, enemies of God, etc...

If we do not care about people who are outside, it is a reflection of our deficiency to understand that we too once were the outsider, stranger, and outcast prior to our reconciliation with God in Christ.

The Gospel is anchored in the idea that Love came after us even though we didn't belong.
We did not have the resume to be accepted. 
We did not know the password that we should get in. 
We did not know the right person that the velvet rope should have been opened to us. 
We forgot the PIN. 
We lacked the credentials. 
We were shut out. 

But Love invited us to eat at a strange table.

Friday, January 18, 2013

hopping to conclusions

John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Romans 8:3a
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.

our futility and His facility

Romans 8:3a

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.

What an awesome reminder of God's grace and provision in the Gospel through Christ..

We could not.
He could.

We didn't.
He did.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

those who live in glass houses should open their doors

I learned this little nugget from Bob Thune.

Transparency is NOT vulnerability.

Glass is transparent but does not invite you in.
Glass is a barrier.

Vulnerability is being transparent and opening a door of invitation into your confessor's quarters.

We must be more than simply confessional.
We must be willing to be corrected after confessing.
We must be willing to hear how the Gospel addresses our depravity.
We must want more than simply to be an object of sympathy.
We must want sanctification.

We must be more than simply transparent, we must be vulnerable.

That is, IF we want to change.

If we only want to be good, dutiful Christians; transparent windows and closed doors will suffice.

as we learn more, He remembers less

Hebrews 10:14-17

14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
17 then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Jesus is sufficient.
Because of Him and His perfection, we are seen as perfect by God even though we aren't.
As we grow in godliness and sanctification we realize that God is greater than we ever imagined
AND we realize that we are worse than we first believed.
God puts His perfection and holiness more and more on and in our hearts and minds. As He does so, however, He reminds us amidst this increased knowledge of His holiness that our sinfulness and shortcomings are not counted against us because of Christ.
We are perfected because of Christ.
We are becoming more Christlike by Christ's work and grace.
We are presently seen as perfect as Christ is perfect.
We are grown in Christlikeness by remembering Christ's life, death, and resurrection.
Your sanctification is more about making much of Christ than it is about making you something.
That's a lot of Christ you say.
Not nearly enough says I.
Not nearly enough.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

a very well-educated idiocy

The Bible is not merely a resource for creating smarter sinners. 

It is the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation by grace through faith in Christ to the glory of God alone.

The Pharisees were merely smarter sinners than most.

John 5:39-40

39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

John 6:40

40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

John 17:3

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Eternal life is not merely knowing more Bible verses than most.
Eternal life is knowing, loving and obeying the Author, Protagonist, and Inspiration of the Bible.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2012: A Year in Books

For reasons still unknown to me I only this year began listening to books on CD when commuting to work.  As such, I ended up blitzing through a number of books.  The following list compiles the books I read this year.

On your marks... get set.... BOOKS!

1. The Bible - God the Holy Spirit
2. A Christmas Carol - Dickens
3. Shepherding a Child's Heart - Tripp
4. The Stranger - Camus
5. Animal Farm - Orwell
6. Farhenheit 451 - Bradbury
7. Strong: As a Man Is, So is His Strength - Pennock
8. My Utmost for His Highest - Chambers
9. Pastor Dad - Driscoll
10. Of Mice and Men - Steinbeck
11. Anne of Green Gables - Montgomery
12. The Outsiders - Hinton
13. Crazy Love - Chan
14. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Wilde
15. Porn Again Christian - Driscoll
16. Simple Church - Rainer & Geiger
17. 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith - Collaborative effort
18. The Call of the Wild - London
19. The Master and Margarita - Bulgakov
20. Real Marriage - Driscoll
21. A Farewell to Arms - Hemmingway
22. Heidelberg Catechism - Ursinus & Olevianus
23. East of Eden - Steinbeck
24. Atonement - McEwan
25. Confessions - St. Augustine
26. Night - Wiesel
27. The Old Man and the Sea - Hemmingway
28. Catch 22 - Heller
29. Lord of the Flies - Golding
30. Jane Eyre - Bronte

2013 will likely not yield the same number and variety of books as I have taken to using my commuting time in the morning for prayer and focusing on the day ahead rather than listening to books on CD.  But that is for now.  I often go through phases and may find myself again diving back into the waters of audio books on CD before the year's end.  You can bang out a significant number of books if you have an hour long commute each way I discovered.  I am hoping to find a job that finds me less and less in my car by necessity as we move to Cedar Falls.  I would love to work closer to home.  That means more time in bed in the morning and more time with my wife and kids in the evening.  Win/Win.  I have daily time reserved for reading the Bible in the morning.  I also read the devotional from My Utmost for His Highest every day.  So those two are staples of my diet.

Have you ever read any of the books above?
What did you think of them and who recommended them to you?
I got a lot of them from THIS LIST.

Do you have any books you think I should try to tackle in 2013?

q & a

John 6:28-29

Q: 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”
A: 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

You cannot do the works of God. 
Only God works.
God accomplishes His work on His own. 
Do you believe this? 
Do you believe in the One who does all of this?

John 6:44

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.

Monday, January 14, 2013

the profundity of four-year-old orthodoxy and orthopraxy

On our trip to South Carolina, two moments stick out to me with regard to my son, Atticus.

Scene 1: Orthopraxy

In the lobby of the hotel one morning during breakfast I asked him to sit in his seat.  I instructed him not to get down from it as I was going to get a refill of free biscuits and gravy (cheap is free after all).  While I was getting more biscuits and ladling gravy, Atticus' grandmother (my wife's mother), arrived in the lobby from her room unaware of the previous edict issued by me and asked Atticus to get down from his seat and to come and sit on her lap.  He responded, "No, daddy told me to stay right here and not move."

Atticus obeyed the voice and command of his father.  The challenge to my command came from someone he trusts and loves.  They were not wooing him to disobey out of malice, but out of a natural desire to be near to him.  Atticus discerned the situation and chose to obey my original command.  He listened to the words of his father and obeyed them in the face of an alternate plea.  He chose to be relationally near by honoring me.

This event produced in me one of the deepest and most appreciative senses of honor and respect I have ever enjoyed. What a joy to hear my son honor me over everyone else. I had not even issued the command with a hint of suspicion that he may disobey it.  I had not discerned any challenges that would likely come from outside.  I had only anticipated perhaps his own desire to wiggle off the chair as on obstacle to his obeying my desires for him.  But he respected my wishes.  He demonstrated love for me.  My heart grew two times that day.  Poor Atticus and his grinch of a dad. But that's another story. Literally.

Scene 2: Orthodoxy

Atticus asked Paige and I why Jesus didn't get married when we were travelling down to South Carolina.  Paige explained that when people get married they become one flesh and come together to represent God in a unique way in which neither of them in their own right could do.  Since Jesus was God, He had no reason to be married.  He already fully represented God because He was God.  There was no reason why He would need to be married and nothing He could gain from being married as a human. Additionally, but not secondly, the Bible does not report Jesus ever being or planning on being married.  That is less a commentary on marriage and more ac ommentary on Jesus. 

On the way home from South Carolina, Penelope was in the backseat singing "John 3:16" by the Rizers.  Atticus told Penelope to stop singing when she said that "God gave His only Son."  His reason?  He retorted, "God did not have a Son. God was NOT married."

Atticus put some very important pieces of information together in his own mind by his creativity and God's grace.

(1) Most people get married
(2) Jesus was not married
(3) Only married people have children.
(3) Jesus was not married
(4) Jesus was God.
(5) God could not have a Son.

While theologically a mess, Atticus did, however, rightly use his logic and understanding to draw these conclusions.  We both applauded his logical conclusion and then drilled deeper with Atticus to mine out meatier theology to explain why God was not married, but had a Son.

My heart swelled with joy in the realization that he is hearing truth and adapting it to a worldview in which God should not be spoken of wrongly by anyone.  If Penelope is singing songs that promote false doctrine, he should shut her down.  Also, married people have kids.  Only married people should be coming together as one flesh.  Jesus was never married because He was fully God.  No human could complete Jesus. Jesus was God. No single person was the source of His pursuit. He came for more than one earthly bride.  He came to purchase the Church and prepare for her white clothes to wear as His bride.

I love being a dad. 
I adore it.

I love theology.
I adore Jesus.

I love my kids and the chance to tell them about the God I love.
What a blessed opportunity.

Thank You, Jesus for the chance to learn more about You and appreciate You more as I live my life before You.  May my kids understand early on the glory You earned and deserve.  May they appreciate how far short of offering this right sacrifice they fall.  May the Gospel swoop into their hearts and resurrect their dead hearts to life and rebirth them as children into Your Kingdom.  May they inherit a Kingdom of peace and joy-filled, faithful living.  May they inherit Your blessings.  May they humbly receive their justification FROM You and be delivered from the tyranny of attempting to achieve it on their own merit.

Friday, January 11, 2013

todd: not God

In all honesty, I would run things very differently if I were in charge.

That is not, as it could appear, an indictment against God and His plans, but rather a powerful verification and reminder of my sin and pride.

Our ways are not God’s ways.

I would make a bad despot.
But in that, I'm in good company I guess.
Name the last "good" despot after all.

interview with a satire‏

A group of strangers all gathered together. We all know why we are here. None of us knows what exactly is about to happen. We all have prepared ourselves as best as we can. We have thought through what we imagine may happen next. We have determined our best strategy available to us. We have considered our strengths. We have tried to think of reasons why our faults are excusable or redeemable. We are all ready. But none of us know if our preparation will pay off. Some have more confidence than others. Some have faith. Some have robust resumes. Some have reason to think they may have an "in." Others worry that someone else may have an "in" that they don't. We are equals in one sense. We are equally unique and we all must face our assessor soon.

A sense of excitement and anxiety overcomes us as we wait to hear or name. What will he ask? What will he say? Will he like our response? Will we find his favor?

And in all of this my mind gravitated toward the judgment of God. I imagined standing next to a long line of people all preparing for the interview of and for their very lives. Not for a job, but for a judgment.

I pray on that day I have faith enough to lean entirely upon Jesus. The temptation will be to rely, even in part, on my resume. In that moment, I do not think I will want to have earned it as much as I will be tempted to doubt that it rests only and solely on Jesus. God will certainly require of me an explanation of my deeds and words. I know I may have reasons for them. I know for some I will have no excuse. May that day demonstrate that Jesus is entirely enough for anyone who on Him will fully rely. May I be found in that camp. May the fear produced by grace be relieved by that grace revealing the Son's sufficiency.

Not only in theory.

But for me.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

thoughts from "Shake it Out" by Florence + the Machine‏

I have not investigated what Florence and her machine say about this song, but I have spent a lot of time listening to it.

You can listen to it HERE.

So if what she intended and what I interpreted are two different things, go with her explanation with regard to what the song is supposed to communicate, but go with me now while I explain what it means to me.

Below are some lyrics selected from “Shake it Out”

Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments

I can see no way, I can see no way

And all of the ghouls come out to play

And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues drawn
It's always darkest before the dawn

And I've been a fool and I've been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way

I'm always dragging that horse around
Our love is questioned, such a mournful sound
Tonight I'm gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues drawn
But it's always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh whoa

And I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart

'Cause I like to keep my issues drawn
It's always darkest before the dawn

And I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't
So here's to drinks in the dark at the end of my road
And I'm ready to suffer and I'm ready to hope
It's a shot in the dark aimed right at my throat

'Cause looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Looking for heaven, found the devil in me

Well what the hell I'm gonna let it happen to me, yeah

The imagery of sin is strong in this song. Both in surrender to it and desire to be free from it. The desire to have been better than we know we have been and to be worse now than we wish we were. To not only be the person that did that horrible thing, but to be the kind of person that would do that thing again. Not merely being haunted by past mistakes, but presently realizing that the mistakes were not the biggest problem. If I find myself covered in grime, I am disgusted by the state I have let myself go, but also must face the fact that even if I get cleaned up, I am the type of person who gravitates toward grime.

“I can see no way, I can see no way”

What I want is frustrated by who I am.
Who I am is frustrated by what I want.
I have wanted different things.
Things that cannot both be.
I have desired the heavenlies.
I have played in the gutters.
I can see no way around myself.

I am at the end of myself.
I can see no way.
It is impossible.
Help me!
Somebody, please.
If it is possible, it has to be from someone and somewhere else.

“But it's always darkest before the dawn”

The conditions that make possible the abandonment of guilt first require guilt to be impressed to its fullest. True repentance comes at the cost of being exposed to that which is really wrong. Prior to that, we are merely managing behavior and playing at progress all the while perishing under performance.

If by grace God grants us a vision of ourselves without Him, our response is to believe for the first time how fully our depravity distances us from Him. Grace teaches our heart to fear.

“And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back”

We were made to dance.
More often than not we dance with the devil.
When we want to dance with Deity, the devil demurs.
We learn to dance with a devil on our back.
It does not look like the dancing we’d like to do, but it’s better than desisting from dancing.

In Christ we can be free from the devil’s damning accusations.
Jesus cuts off the horse we have been dragging around.
In Christ we can dance before Him: joyfully and freely.
Jesus sets our feet to do that which they were created.

Looking for heaven, found the devil in me”

When I look to who I want to be, I see who I am.
When I look to where I want to go, I see where I’ve been.
When I look to Who is where I want to go, I see that I do not belong there with Him.

The problem is finally centralized. It is not just that I have a devil on my back that is my greatest deterrent. It is that the devil is in me. It’s not that evil has held me back. It’s that I am evil. It is the world, the flesh, and the Devil that oppose me and separate me from God. It is only God who can make up that distance.

It is only by God’s gift of Jesus that I may dance and do so with delight.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

farm or fart?

Today's posting "fanatic or faithful" reminded me in its nuance of a game my wife and I play when we take trips back to NW IA to visit my parents.

Farm or Fart?

On our road trip to SC we did at one point play "Tennessee or Toot?" but that was short lived and not really a game because the answer was never "Tennessee."

fanatic or faithful?

Chambers pointed out a problem I often have this morning in My Utmost for His Highest
when he noted,

Beware of being obsessed with consistency to your own convictions instead of being devoted to God.  If you are a saint and say, “I will never do this or that,” in all probability this will be exactly what God will require of you…The important consistency in a saint is not to a principle but to the divine life….It is easier to be an excessive fanatic than it is to be consistently faithful, because God causes an amazing humbling of our religious conceit when we are faithful to Him.”

We are free to have preferences. We are free to have different preferences. Even within the body of Christ, there can be freedom to follow one’s convictions. The danger is not in being too free, it is in being too demanding. This takes place within two realms

1. With others – We can quickly become too demanding of others in attempting to enforce our preferences over their personality. We make into law something that is perhaps helpful to us, but not necessary for another. We make the mistake of assuming that everyone is like us. We make maxims from methods. If this is how we best get here or keep from going there, then anyone who tries another way is wrong. That is not to say that sometimes people really are right and others really are wrong. The point is that we often turn secondary matters into principled reasons for causing distraction and brokenness. We become fanatical about things we previously were not passionate. We fan into flame our passions and make them the barometer by which we judge others. We find one thing and make it everything. We make idols out of the one good thing we know when that one thing is not the One who made us.

2. With God – We develop an understanding of what we think God wants from us and devote ourselves entirely to it. We run with the nugget and abandon the mine. Abraham is a perfect example of abandoning a principle in order to embrace God. God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. As difficult as this must have been, Abraham, by faith began early the next morning the steps to do what he heard the Word say. Abraham got all the way to the point of binding Isaac and placing him on a stone. Knife raised and conviction guiding his movements, he gathered himself and set his mind and body to following through with the outcome of his devotion to God’s command. "STOP!" Just then, when adrenaline and conviction were at their highest, God stopped Abraham and told him to unbind Isaac. God provided a ram which Abraham saw caught in a thicket. It required faith in God to abandon his course of action. Abraham demonstrates for us faith not only in the offering up of Isaac, but in the abandonment of his conviction. Imagine how strong that conviction had to be. Strong enough to offer up your only son. How committed must he have been? And to release even that to God. To listen. To stop. Abraham was not wrong to offer up Isaac. He could not have been more right. However, Abraham would have been wrong to kill Isaac after God said, “STOP!”

To be a fanatic, you need only to listen once.
To be faithful, you must listen daily.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

we interrupt your regularly scheduled program for this important announcement

The Family Voorst Five: Off to an Odd Year

The critically-acclaimed reign of the family voorst five will be coming to an end shortly.

However, it is being replaced by MORE of the SAME.

It's 4th down people.
4 quarters!

'cause it's 4 kids 4 the minivan voorsts.

You will now have to contend with the family voorst SIX.

That's right.

Paige and I are expecting our 4th child on Aug. 17th which those of you playing at home will note is our wedding anniversary. And those of you playing at home should also know that we are currently accepting large cash donations and/or gifts for either occasion accordingly :)

This will be our first odd year baby. 

Atticus '08
Penelope '10
Finneas '12

______? '13

There will certainly be more to report on this development in the months to come, but praise God for His provision and mercy in blessing us with another child to whom we may preach the Gospel of His Son in hopes that as they grow older they may not depart from it.

Keep us in your prayers.  We are selling a home, looking for a job, relocating our family to a new town, meeting new people, planting a new church, and creating a new church family.

Will power alone could power through it.
Pride could perform it.

But we want this to be a demonstration of the grace of God in Christ in us and for others.

My friend Jacob and I often jest about the non-biblical phrase,

"God doesn't give you more than you can handle." 

Yeah, sometimes He does.

Often He does. 
And praise Him for it.

My sin was more than I could handle.
But He took care of it. 
It was too big for me. 
But it was carried in full by Him.

This move, this job hunt, this pregnancy, all may very well be too much for Paige and I. 
And that's OK.
It is not too big for God.

And its in Him and on Him we are trusting as we white-knuckle these days by grace.

He is good.
And I love Him.