Friday, November 29, 2013

day no. 12.821: all glory be to Christ‏

I absolutely adore this song. I used to pull up this YouTube video and play it around the house all the time. The kids really enjoy it as well and will periodically bust into a sing-song melody loosely based on this song with mumbled lyrics in between clearly saying things like, “Christ” and “God.” I think they have it right: if you’re going to mumble, make it the words in between. If you’re going to say something clearly, make it “God” and more specifically “Christ!”
I first heard this song while attending Coram Deo in Omaha, NE one get-away weekend with my wife. Bob Thune had recently done a small group Bible study leaders retreat for Cornerstone Church of Ames and since we were in Omaha for the weekend, I thought we could check his Acts 29 church plant.
Listen HERE.
Purchase HERE.
Should nothing of our efforts stand
No legacy survive
Unless the Lord does raise the house
In vain its builders strive
To you who boast tomorrow’s gain
Tell me what is your life
A mist that vanishes at dawn
All glory be to Christ!
All glory be to Christ our king!
All glory be to Christ!
His rule and reign will ever sing,
All glory be to Christ!
His will be done
His kingdom come
On earth as is above
Who is Himself our daily bread
Praise Him the Lord of love
Let living water satisfy
The thirsty without price
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
All glory be to Christ!
All glory be to Christ our king!
All glory be to Christ!
His rule and reign will ever sing,
All glory be to Christ!
When on the day the great I Am
The faithful and the true
The Lamb who was for sinners slain
Is making all things new.
Behold our God shall live with us
And be our steadfast light
And we shall ere his people be
All glory be to Christ!
All glory be to Christ our king!
All glory be to Christ!
His rule and reign will ever sing,
All glory be to Christ!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

day no. 12,820: unless the LORD does raise the house, in vain its builders strive‏

***The following was originally written when we were looking for a home in the CF/W'loo area.

Since the recent focus of prayer and petition has been finding a home for Team VV to drop anchor in the Cedar Valley, I decided to read Psalm 127 as part of our regular dinner devotions.
I found myself encouraged and enlightened by explaining the text to my children. People cannot build houses that can survive if God should decide to destroy them. People cannot destroy houses that God has determined to uphold and exalt forever. My children are part of this house that God is building by grace through faith.
As a result, I am blessed and will not be put to shame for God is with me because Christ is for me.
Psalm 127
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth.
5 Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
There exists no power so strong as to overcome God.
There exists no power so strong that God cannot overcome it.
There is by man created no goodness so good, no purity so pure, no righteousness so righteous, no hope so hopeful that God is overpowered by it.
There is by man created no might so mighty, no fortress so fortified, no resilience so reliant, no resolve so resolute that God cannot overpower it.
God is defeated by nothing.
Nothing can defend itself against God.
There exists no home built by man that can reach the threshold of Heaven.
There exists no home built by man that will stand before God on its own foundation.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

day no. 12,819 continued... the whole counsel of God is the Word of His grace‏

Acts 20:26-28
Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
Acts 20:32
And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Paul preached as much of the Word of God to those at Ephesus as he could because he believed that God's very Words could condemn, wreck and rebuild to righteousness the person whose heart received what the Word preached: Jesus' life, death and resurrection on our behalf because He bought it with His own blood.

day no. 12.819: exactly one year ago today at 7:55 AM

It was exactly one year ago today at this time (7:55 and 48 seconds) that Paul Sabino sent the email that changed my life forever.  I did not read the email until later that evening when I got home from work and after the kids had gone to bed. It was in this email that he for the first time suggested that I should move my family to the CF/Waterloo area to help in the planting of a new church through Cornerstone Church of Ames.

One year ago at this very time I was driving home from a different job to a different house to a different life.  I had 3 kids. 

How quickly things can change, eh?

Only 365 days since that email was sent through the internets, I am in a new home in a new town at a new church with a new job and a new child awaits me at the end of this day.

I had a life I liked just fine and God encouraged me to strive for life abundant.  I didn’t even know I was missing anything a year ago today.  I figured a good life was all there was to it.
I was wrong.

I’m so glad God ruined my life.

I prefer the life He provides to the one I struggled to release.

I pray He ruins your life too.

For your good.
For His glory.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

day no. 12,818 continued... especially‏

While taking a break from my daily labors to pray for a moment about life, sacrifice, love, desires, hopes, security, trust, order and uncertainty I had the following dots connect by the grace of God.
Galatians 6:10
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
This verse from Galatians came to mind immediately after beginning to chew upon the following goldmine/landmine from Philippians
Philippians 2:4
Let each of you look not only to his own interests,but also to the interests of others.
(gold if by grace a la 1 Cor. 3:12; bomb if by boasting a la Rom 4:2 or 1 Cor. 1:31)
Here is the revelation God offered to me:
The church is God’s perfect place for us to begin practicing looking to others’ interests.
If you want to reorient your life around other person’s interests, there is a great deal of discernment and discipleship required to do it.
A good way to practice this is by submitting yourself fully to your church and the needs, desires, wants, hopes, dreams, etc… of those along whose side you worship regularly. Their prayer requests should be things you can get behind with anticipation and participation. Their needs and wants should be in line with those that honor God in receiving Him more. What better people to serve and do good for than those who are oriented already toward making much of Jesus. If you help them, you help them honor God because the things they are interested in and desire help with making much of Jesus. What a safe place to surrender your will to the will of others.
This foundation provides the place where one, when well-practiced, can enter the difficult domain of serving people who do not honor Jesus with their interests, hopes, dreams, etc…
Paul knew how to do this.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23
19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
It is a grace of God that He would have us FIRST to focus on our immediate brothers and sisters in Christ as the aim of our service, prayer and general do-gooding. It is a safe place to practice and discipline ourselves.
We then enter the realm of discernment and diligence in serving those who do not have prior intention to worship Jesus. We can look to the interests of others who are not like us and do not like the things we like. By God’s grace, perhaps, He may save some of them to join the likes of His church through Christ.
I am thankful for the godly men and women who are part of the body of Christ that I can serve and assist in clear conscience and comradery. I am embarrassed at how often, even among them, I fail to respond to their needs expressed from a common confession.
Everyone has different interests.
Everyone interested in similar things does so to different degrees.
Start by serving those whose primary interest is eagerly waiting for Jesus.
We wait together.
You will find their interests in the interim, however, vary in aim and intensity from yours.
Look to those interests, setting your own aside.
Then become all things to all to by all means save some.
Look to their interests also, setting all your own aside except the primary interest to persuade them to find most interesting that which is of eternal interest: Jesus.

day no, 12,818: no shave november (and forever!!!)


Thanks to my friend, Joel Wise, for introducing me to this awesome Spurgeon quote.

Monday, November 25, 2013

day no. 12,817: holding on to that which holds you

Like I mentioned previously, I had the privilege of speaking at the Salt Co. back on my birthday (10/24).

Click HERE to hear that sermon.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

day no. 12,816: another first

I had the opportunity to lead worship this morning at Candeo.  Busy past 30 days.  Taught at Salt Co. on 10/24, got to baptize people on 11/10 and led worship on 11/24.  All firsts.  All gracious opportunities to see how much work and sweat and stress go into leading ministry.  Respect and honor your shepherds who are so diligently working to guard, protect and minister to your souls.  They are giving often more than you know because they do it so often and so well that you never hear about it.  Until you stop just attending and consuming, you don't realize how much work goes into making your feast free.  God bless those who have dedicated their lives to laboring over your souls.

Here is a tweet/instagram from our Lead Pastor Paul Sabino.

Friday, November 22, 2013

day no. 12,814: why are you placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples?

Acts 15:10-11
10 Now, therefore,why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.
By grace.
Through faith.
In Christ.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

day no. 12,813: acts of service‏

Acts 13:38-39 (ESV)
38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.
BAD NEWS: My good is not good enough to be Christlike.
GOOD NEWS: My bad is not too bad to be covered by the likes of Christ.
I love the Law of God.
It is a guide to know and love and respect and honor my God.
But I still break the Law I love.
And I hate that.
I hate that about me.
And sometimes I hate the Law for being so friggen' unbending.
But this all serves as a reminder of the necessity for me to be found in Jesus.
Not just yesterday when I I first believed.

But today too as I continue on in believing.

Acts 13:38-39 (NIV)
38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

day no. 12,812: all roads that bookend Romans‏

Romans 1:5 bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations
Romans 16:26
but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith
The greatest book of theology ever written begins and ends with the delightful tension captured in the phrase,"the obedience of faith."
It is not merely the knowing, but living knowledge.
It is not merely living, but knowing Life.
And not just for you.
Or me.
Saddle up.
Let's do this thing.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

day no. 12,811: the appointed point to which the prophets all point‏

Acts 10:42-43
42 And He (Jesus) commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To Him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His Name.
Jesus is appointed as Judge.
Jesus is the point of all the prophets.
Jesus is the sole point on which salvation swings.
verse 43:

TO Him
IN Him

Wherever we find a place to weekly preach, whatever model for connecting we concoct, whomever God grants to be folded into our flock, may our top priority always be making much of Jesus.
My righteousness has a first name, it's J-E-S-U-S!

Monday, November 18, 2013

day no. 12,810: empty to receive or filled to achieve?

Oswald kicked things into gear this morning when he said,

The first thing God does is forcibly remove any insincerity, pride, and vanity from my life. And the Holy Spirit reveals to me that God loved me not because I was lovable, but because it was His nature to do so. Now He commands me to show the same love to others by saying,
“. . . love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). He is saying,“I will bring a number of people around you whom you cannot respect, but you must exhibit My love to them, just as I have exhibited it to you.” This kind of love is not a patronizing love for the unlovable—it is His love, and it will not be evidenced in us overnight. Some of us may have tried to force it, but we were soon tired and frustrated.

You cannot force God into your heart.
You cannot will your heart to love God.

We must receive Him and His love into us.

When we labor and toil and clamor to grasp it, we end up empty-handed.

What we do with our empty hands determines everything:

Do we lift them up to receive or fill them up to achieve?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

day no. 12,808: todd the baptizer

Click the picture below to view a slideshow video from this past Sunday's Baptism service at Candeo.

Check out my wife's blog about the service HERE.

Friday, November 15, 2013

day no. 12,807: not by power or piety‏

Acts 3:12

And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do
you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own
power or piety we have made him walk?

Not by power or piety are men saved.

Not in following godly men or becoming ourselves godly do we find
favor in His sight.

It is through,to, for and from Christ alone.

Why are you staring merely at men?

We often become either obsessed with all that men can muster or with
the man staring back at us in the mirror.

Both are too weak to bear the weight which we attempt to place upon them.
That house will not hold up.

Hebrews 3:3-4

3 For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much
more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house
itself. 4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all
things is God.)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

day no. 12,806: how much more should you do it‏

2 Kings 5:13
But his servants approached and said to him, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more should you do it when he tells you, ‘Wash and be clean’?”
We come prepared to do something great for God only to discover He has already done everything on our behalf.
Are you able and willing to receive this?
Receive Him and be saved.
Yeah, it's embarrassing.
It requires you to admit you're efforts fall flat.
But the Lord raises and praises the humble in Christ while the proud will not stand.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

day no. 12,805 finale: todd the baptizer

Just in case you missed it, I had the privilege of baptizing some members of Candeo Church this past Sunday who wanted to follow Jesus in obedience.

I am baffled by the God who has allowed me to be included in stuff like this.

day no 12,805 continued... pacers, racers and tracers

Check out a video I did for Candeo's Connection Group leaders below.

day no. 12,805: infant bathtism‏

infant bathtism:

 inviting your friends and relatives to watch your child's forehead get a bath.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

day no 12,804: sintentionality

Genesis 50:20

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Just because God can use sin for good does not mean sin is good.
No one would interpret Joseph's words to mean that kidnapping is OK.
1 Timothy 2:12
I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

Just because God can use a woman in a pastoral capacity as an authority over men does not mean sin is good.

Why then do so many interpret Paul's words to mean that the practice of women in pastoral capacities is OK?

Monday, November 11, 2013

day no. 12,803: just an observation‏

Are you observant?

"Observant" contains the word "servant."

The word does not find its etymology in using this word "servant," rather in observe + ant, however it is a helpful reminder to serve those we observe.

I know lots of people who enjoy "people watching" at the mall.

I know few people who go out of their daily way to anticipate other's needs based off their attentive observations.

We would do well to observe people with the intention to serve those people by ministering to their needs or by addressing them before they become needs.

Friday, November 8, 2013

day no. 12,800: do you love your friends?

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
What most people mean when they said, "I love my friends," is that they like that their friends like them, they have fun with them, they enjoy them.
I love my friends like that.
Jesus died for His friends.
He's a better friend than I am and you are.
That shouldn't be a surprise.
The surprise should be in realizing how easily we make our friends into fodder for our own fetishes of self-love.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

day no. 12,799: if we do only what we feel inclined to do, some of us would do nothing for ever and ever‏

Oswald told me this morning that feeling inspired is not a necessary condition of being obedient. Don't buy it? Read for yourself below.

Be instant in season, out of season. —2 Timothy 4:2
Many of us suffer from the morbid tendency to be instant "out of season." The season does not refer to time, but to us – ‘Be instant in season, out of season," whether we feel like it or not. If we do only what we feel inclined to do, some of us would do nothing for ever and ever. There are unemployables in the spiritual domain, spiritually decrepit people, who refuse to do anything unless they are supernaturally inspired.The proof that we are rightly related to God is that we do our best whether we feel inspired or not.
One of the great snares of the Christian worker is to make a fetish of his rare moments. When the Spirit of God gives you a time of inspiration and insight, you say – "Now I will always be like this for God." No, you will not, God will take care you are not. Those times are the gift of God entirely. You cannot give them to yourself when you choose. If you say you will only be at your best, you become an intolerable drag on God; you will never do anything unless God keeps you consciously inspired. If you make a god of your best moments, you will find that God will fade out of your life and never come back until you do the duty that lies nearest, and have learned not to make a fetish of your rare moments.
If you only obey when you feel like it or are forced to it, might I be so bold as to suggest you are not obedient.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

day no. 12,798: even if you do nothing, God will get all He desires done‏

"Even if you do nothing, God will get all He desires done." ~ Troy Nesbitt

What an encouraging reminder of how little of this depends on me and how much of this is in the hands of the faithful Creator and Perfector of faith fulfilled in the life, work, death and resurrection of Christ.

This is not meant to inspire laziness, but to expose the flesh.

God will get everything He desires done.
He will do it.

With or without you.

He will not accomplish more if you cooperate.
He will not accomplish less if you rebel.

But all joy and peace in believing is available to you in receiving the revealed righteousness of God in pursuing the obedience of faith Paul mentions in Romans 1:5

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

day no. 12,797: very boldly by way of reminder‏

Romans 15:15-16

15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

I love Paul's word play here in suggesting that the Old Testament Levitical priesthood has now somehow been transformed into the priestly work of reminding people what Christ has done on their behalf.

Priests temporarily reconclied men to God, but only for a moment and only for sins, not sin.

Jesus' sacrifice was not just for the sins we have committed, but for sin itself.

We are not merely forgiven in Jesus for things we've done wrong or things we've failed to do right, we are forgiven for being the type of people who delight in doing wrong and delinquent in doing right.

Praise God for the Gospel and the priestly service of reminding others with boldness that it is in Christ alone that we have full freedom to live eternaly here and now.

Monday, November 4, 2013

day no. 12,796: cursed is the man who trusts in man‏

My friend, Joel, sent me the following passage today in an email in mentioning how great the hope in God is and how fickle the hope in flesh.

Jeremiah 17:5-9

5 Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.
6 He is like a shrub in the desert,

and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.

7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.

8 He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

9 The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?

I love the imagery and potency of these verses:

uninhabited, unfruitful, unproductive salt land
confident, fruitful, productive roots by water.

And yet we long for drought and desert.

We are sick.

God is good in His grace to reveal Himself to us and create within us a desire to long for Him and His.

And yet even in this blessed state we acknowledge that we often desire to be free from grace and enslaved again to sin.

The heart is beyond our ability to repair.
Who can understand these things?

Praise God for His grace and unfailing, faithful love.

Psalm 68:19

Blessed be the Lord,
who daily bears us up;
God is our salvation.  


Selah, indeed

Give pause to reflect upon that promise.
He DAILY bears us up.
If He doesn't, we are bare.

Friday, November 1, 2013

day no. 12,793: a purpose-driven vs. promise-given life‏

Oswald dished up a hearty breakfast this morning when he said,

Jesus’ parable of the talents recorded in Matthew 25:14-30 was a warning that it is possible for us to misjudge our capacities. This parable has nothing to do with natural gifts and abilities, but relates to the gift of the Holy Spirit as He was first given at Pentecost. We must never measure our spiritual capacity on the basis of our education or our intellect; our capacity in spiritual things is measured on the basis of the promises of God. If we get less than God wants us to have, we will falsely accuse Him as the servant falsely accused his master when he said, “You expect more of me than you gave me the power to do. You demand too much of me, and I cannot stand true to you here where you have placed me.”

...Never forget that our capacity and capability in spiritual matters is measured by, and based on, the promises of God.

We have the peculiar penchant of ignoring God's promises in preference to focusing on our performance. Then when our performance falls short or flat of where we thought we could go, we lash out at God for making our purpose so lofty and well, perfect.

We accuse God of making the measure too great all the while ignoring the promises of God in the revealed righteousness that comes in receiving Christ on our behalf.

We dishonor Christ's accomplishments by refusing to believe that they are enough on their own without our assistance.

Jesus doesn't need our help.
For anything.

2 Corinthians 1:20
For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in Him. Therefore, the “Amen” is also spoken through Him by us for God’s glory.