Wednesday, April 30, 2014

day no. 12,973: singing an entirely different tune‏

Luke 19:37-38

37 Now He came near the path down the Mount of Olives, and the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen:
38 The King who comes
in the name of the Lord
is the blessed One.
Peace in heaven
and glory in the highest heaven!
This same crowd within a week’s time would be singing an entirely different tune. That song would sound more like, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
Many of the same people who gladly welcomed Jesus into their life at the beginning of the week were crying out for Him to be crucified and buried out of their sight by the end of the week.
Would you say then given the full body of evidence that those people loved and truly followed Jesus? No. Just because they welcomed Him at one point doesn’t mean they followed or loved Him.
They got excited about Him for a short season and then fell back into life as usual.
Do not make the same mistake.
Do not assume the same posture.

Just because you may have been excited about Jesus at one point in your life does not mean that any current apathy or rejection of Him is acceptable. You’re not a disciple if you only followed Jesus once upon a time. You’re a disciple if you are following Him now.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

day no. 12,972: penelope is four today!

I am so excited to meet 4 year old Penelope!!!

3 year old Penelope was a hoot.

I love my little girl.

She has lately taken to talking about marrying me someday.

For now, I'm fine with that.

I love my little girl.

She loves crazy socks, princess dresses, acting like little David about to sling shot Goliath, pretending to be a bride in a wedding, dance parties in the living room, Faithful, Discretion and Christiana's Story at the end of Dangerous Journey, Blandina the martyr, Ruth the Moabite and watching people get baptized at church.

She's well-rounded!

Monday, April 28, 2014

day no. 12,971: mission impossible‏

Luke 18:27

He replied,“What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

The love of money is the most common stumbling block that keeps people from entering into God’s Kingdom. So much so that people rich in this life have a particularly difficult time receiving anything from God.

The disciples assumed that rich people were blessed and therefore if the most blessed people have a difficult time making it to heaven, who has a chance, right?
Jesus assures us that it is impossible for us to come to Him.

Wait, how is that assuring?

It is impossible for us.

But it is possible with and through Him.

But don't take my word for it:

1 Thessalonians 5:24
He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
Hebrews 10:23
Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Friday, April 25, 2014

day no. 12,968: enter like a little child‏

Luke 18:17

I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

This isn’t saying that infants have the inside track to salvation. It is saying that little children are helpless and dependent upon those who take care of them. The one who comes to God utterly dependent and helpless receives His care.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

day no. 12,967: chugging away all the live long day

Luke 17:27-30

27 People went on eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day Noah boarded the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.28 It will be the same as it was in the days of Lot: People went on eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building.29 But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all.30 It will be like that on the day the Son of Man is revealed.

The world will keep on chugging along all the way up until it stops chugging altogether.

It will be business as usual until business is interrupted indefinitely.

People will marry people, have kids, buy homes, retile kitchens, spend their tax returns on a flat screen, attend church, etc… all the way up until all of those things end.

Be ready!

Jesus has not told us when, but He has promised why.

He will redeem those who have placed their faith in Him.

He will judge and condemn those who have either openly rejected Him or apathetically put Him off all the way up until the end.

Don’t put Him off.
Put Him on.

Romans 13:14

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.

Galatians 3:27

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ like a garment.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

day no. 12,966: one particular application‏

Proverbs 27:7

A person who is full tramples on a honeycomb,
but to a hungry person, any bitter thing is sweet.
A young lady who has given her attention to the Man Christ Jesus will not fall or settle for the inappropriate attentions/affections of a boy.
However, the girl who does not rely on Christ’s affection for her is vulnerable to inviting bitterness into her life thinking all the while it will be sweet.
Be filled young lady and even the sweetest distractions will be overlooked.
Take heed young lady, if you remain hungry, you are poised to pick poison in order to have anything.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

day no. 12,965: a messy calendar or an organized coffin?‏

I am really enjoying this season of growing as a CG leader and thinking about how we all can better lead our groups. I feel like I’m beginning to enter a sweet spot in some regards with specific reference to that subject matter. I love my connection group. I want other people to love theirs. It’s work, but it is producing fruit.
Proverbs 14:4
Where there are no oxen, the stalls are clean; but much is produced by the strength of an ox.
You could make life easier if you got rid of your ox.
But you’d be less productive and see less fruit from your life.
An ox can help you produce more fruit.
But it means shoveling poop.
If you prefer clean stalls, kill your ox.
If you want a fruitful and productive life, learn to shovel.

Monday, April 21, 2014

day no. 12,964: connection group leading and training‏

As CG leaders it is sometimes easy to come up with a great list of questions and then pose them to the group and hear the answers and then move on to the next question and fire away until your time is through.

It can easily produce the quiz master effect. Here’s what I mean. Studies have shown that the person asking the questions (the quiz master, a la Alex Trebek) is perceived as more intelligent than the group. Why? Because they never get a question wrong for one. And they control the questions and answers. Those combined: never being wrong and always being in control, leads people to interpret that the leader is smarter and better than them in some regard (in this case being more intellectual, more holy, etc…).
That can happen in CG. If the leader fires penetrating questions off at other people and then comments in response to their confessions, but never themselves experience the bulls-eye of the question, it can be interpreted by some that the leader has it all together and is the quiz master.
Disciples making disciples thrive best, I imagine, when the leader is themselves doing as Paul commanded Timothy:
1 Timothy 4:15
Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all.
People need to see our progress. How can they see our progress if they never see our weakness or failure? We must place ourselves under the scalpel of God’s Word in front of them and lead by that example.
That they can see us practicing, committing and progressing in Christlikeness and discipleship before them. We want them to do what they see us doing.
Practicing, committing, progressing.
People don’t need you to be Jesus for them.
They need to see you needing Jesus in front of them.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

day no. 12,963: GOOD MORNING!!!

Matthew 28:9
Just then Jesus met them and said, “Good morning!” They came up, took hold of His feet, and worshiped Him.

Friday, April 18, 2014

day no. 12,961: Good Friday

1 Corinthians 15:3-6
3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:
that Christ died for our sins
according to the Scriptures,
4 that He was buried,
that He was raised on the third day
according to the Scriptures,
5 and that He appeared to Cephas,
then to the Twelve.
6 Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time;
most of them are still alive,
but some have fallen asleep.
The most important thing anyone can pass on is the most important thing anyone can receive: the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on their behalf.

1 Corinthians 11:26
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
Today, we specifically set aside to proclaim the Lord's death.  This is that Good Friday where the Man Jesus Christ ended His perfect life by voluntarily submitting Himself to a sacrificial death.  He was the perfect sacrifice.  The willing sacrifice.  He died on purpose and with purpose. 
As Christians, we proclaim the Lord's death often.  Particularly when we received communion and particularly today as we remember His specific death on a specific tree at a certain time in a certain place where for certain He finished the good work that is our secure hope of salvation.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

day no. 12,960: debunking DIY Christianity‏

Galatians 6:2-3

2Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.3 For if anyone considers himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
At Connection Group the other night (March 11, 2014), I led my group first through these verses prior to jumping in to our discussion through Genesis 3 and the lies we are tempted to believe and the consequences we are quick to forget.
We default, without any effort, to DIY Christianity.
We want to carry our own loads and clean up our own messes.
We don’t want people seeing how embarrassingly dirty and muddled we are, so we go to great effort to portray ourselves as “OK” when in actuality we’re KO’d.
***sorry, that’s boxing lingo for Knocked Out for those of you not remotely familiar with sports and/or boxing – not that I am, I just played a lot of Mike Tyson’s Punch Out when I was a kid.
Stop considering yourself to be something.
You’re not.
Stop taking yourself so seriously.
You’re a joke.
Stop deceiving yourself.
Listen to truth.
Stop doing it yourself.
You can’t carry your own load alone and you can’t fulfill the law of Christ by neglecting the loads of others.
We fulfill the law of Christ when we take upon our shoulders the weight of other people’s heavy loads.
We fulfill the law of Christ in asking for help with the burdens we carry when they’re weighing us down.
Don’t be too proud to say, “Help!”
Don’t be too busy to say, “How can I help?”

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

day no. 12,959: cashing in a lifetime of worry‏

Luke 12:25-26
25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
My friend Tim observed the following in response to this passage.
This is such perfect wisdom. The truth is, the accumulation of a lifetime of worry can be cashed in for a lifetime of stress and a reduction in your physical life span, as well as the destruction of your emotional health.
I've always heard and repeated the idea of "worry" as motivator. I don't think that's really worry (especially not as Jesus is describing). This motivator, I would say is better described as awareness. When I have a project coming up at work, an awareness of the deadline and tasks to be completed keeps me motivated. If the awareness turns into thoughts of concern, and then in to desperation and worry - I can't say that I'm motivated by the awareness anymore - just discouraged - believing Satan's lie.
An accumulation of a lifetime of worry can be cashed in for a lifetime of stress and destruction.
Well stated Tim.
Additionally, I loved his careful treatment of worry and awareness.
Awareness is productive in disciplining godliness and contentment.
Worry is destructive anxiety that results in reduced productivity.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

day no. 12,958: i was supposed to write this, i'm sure of it

A conversation this morning regarding predestination fueled a fury of thoughts on my drive to work this morning. The conversation was, as per usual, in reference to Romans 9.
Romans 9:11-18
11 For though her sons had not been born yet or done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to election might stand—12 not from works but from the One who calls—she was told: The older will serve the younger.13 As it is written: I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau.
14 What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not!15 For He tells Moses:
I will show mercy
to whom I will show mercy,
and I will have compassion
on whom I will have compassion.
16 So then it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy.17 For the Scripture tells Pharaoh:
I raised you up for this reason
so that I may display My power in you
and that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth.
18 So then, He shows mercy to those He wants to, and He hardens those He wants to harden.
My thoughts were rallying around one common objection people make in response to the reality that God has predestined people. That being, “Well if God has already decided, what does it matter what I do?”
Great question.
Unfortunately, the answer to that is almost without exception fleshed out in the following manner. An exasperated person hears that God is in complete control and throws up their hands and says, “Well if it’s already been decided, then I’m just going to do what I want. If God is going to do what He wants, I will do what I want and we’ll see what happens in the end since He’s going to do it anyways.”
This commonly takes the form of laziness, self-centeredness, callousness and the most base behaviors imaginable found under the defense of, “Who can resist God’s will? If He wants to save me, He will. If He doesn’t, He won’t.”
I agree.
But your response to freedom is interesting, is it not?
You discover that nothing you can do will gain or lose your salvation and so your default is to act in a way unworthy of the Gospel.
Why is it every time someone says, “Well, I guess it doesn’t matter what I do,” they throw their hands up and engage in the most vile behaviors imaginable?
No one ever says, “It doesn’t matter what I do,” and then ends up giving all their possessions away to the poor and serving widows and orphans with all their time and energy. No one ever says, “I guess it doesn’t matter” and spends their free time preaching the Gospel to strangers and opening their house to those in need.
Isn’t it interesting how we default to total depravity in a moment’s time?
The very response to God’s sovereignty and decision proves our depravity and the election necessary for anyone to be saved.
God is free to do whatever He desires.
Observe the stark contrast.
He can do whatever He wants and with that freedom, He sends His one and only begotten Son. He send Him as a sacrifice to die. He chooses to be selfless. He chooses to die.
When given a world of possibilities and options, He chooses sacrifice.
He is not totally depraved. He is wholly divine.
Godliness chooses to die, chooses to suffer, and chooses in love to do whatever it takes to win those opposed.
And for whom does He do this?
Selfish, introspective, infantile hedonists who choose themselves every time over everyone else and over God.
He dies for those who would never choose Him. He dies for those who default to pleasure-seeking and impatience.
God demonstrates His love in choosing to save those who have proved themselves unworthy of being saved.
This should produce hands raised in worship, not in exasperation. Yes, He is fully in charge and has determined our steps. But He is good and loving and has proven this time and time again by His faithfulness and His provision of Jesus Christ.
That is the Gospel.

Monday, April 14, 2014

day no. 12,957: are you an unmarked grave?

Luke 11:44

“Woe to you! You are like unmarked graves; the people who walk over them don’t know it.”
Are you an unmarked grave?
Are you dead and you are too afraid or too proud to tell anyone?
My challenge for you today is to put up a tombstone. Declare that you are dead, needy and buried under your troubles. Make a public profession of your neediness. In this God is quick to restore and establish. A broken and contrite heart He will not deny.
People pass by you day in and day out and they don’t know that you need Jesus because you spend most of your day acting like you don’t need Him. You have it all together. You’ve got this.
Woe to you!
You are like an unmarked grave.
You are dead and no one knows it.
Not even you.

Friday, April 11, 2014

day no. 12,954: garden variety‏

I was thinking about Genesis 3 the other day.
When Eve sinned, God came looking for Adam.

Genesis 3:9

So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
This doesn’t seem fair.
Eve started it.
But Adam was responsible.
Whether or not he wanted to be in charge, he was.
Maybe he liked being in charge when it meant naming stuff whatever he desired, but when being in charge meant giving an account for the state of his garden and the people therein, he blame-shifted.
Adam had done wrong. He had failed to protect the garden. He had failed to defend the truth. He had listened to the voice of his wife rather than the voice of God.
Adam had real sin to account for and instead of confessing, he attempted to justify himself and his actions based on the circumstances surrounding his sin. His end game was this: it’s not really my fault.
The first Adam was from the dust and to the dust that Adam returned. He is who we are.
Jesus was from the Adam from Heaven. Jesus never sinned. He did nothing wrong. He is who we ought to be.
And yet He takes full responsibility for His people and says, “Punish Me.”
He doesn’t blame-shift. In His case, it wouldn’t even be blame-shifting. There was no hammer coming down on Jesus. He didn’t deserve any pain, suffering, maltreatment or death.
And yet He took upon Himself intentionally, on purpose the pain, suffering, maltreatment and death of the cross.
Jesus reversed the curse by being the Adam we all need because of the Adam in us that has fallen short.
Jesus took responsibility for us.
He did what Adam was too lazy or afraid to do.
He owned our sin.
2 Corinthians 5:21
He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Not because He had to, but because He wanted to.
Not out of duty, but out of devotion to the Father.
Not out of compulsion, but out of love.
Praise God!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

day no. 12,953: the difficult lesson of sink or swim‏

(this is essentially part 3 of this saga now reflecting upon the ordeal altogether. if you haven't read Tuesday or Wednesday's posts, they will help fill in the rest of the story)

Matthew 14:30

But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
I should have yelled, “Lord, save me!” loud enough for my friends to hear and take note of my weakness and God’s goodness.
Instead, I sent an email the equivalent of saying, “I’m drowning. It was nice knowing you.”
Rather than an obituary, I should have sent an S.O.S.
I should have said, “I’m drowning. Please help me!”
Luckily for me, I have friends and family who love me enough to reach down into the pit and pull me out.
While I was all too content to allow myself to be sunk lower than the grave, my friends believed in God enough for me, enough to come get me, enough to believe He was enough for me if they could get the message through the muck.
God blessed their rescue mission and I am on solid ground again.
“Lord, save me!”
May all who know me hear me often say it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

day no. 12,952: arms raised in praise‏

(this almost serves as a part 2 to yesterday's post. so if you didn't read yesterday's post, please do to set the context)
Do you remember when Moses was helping the Israelites fight by raising his staff?  His arms got tired and when his arms fell, the Israelites would begin losing the battle and when he lifted up his hands they would begin winning the battle (EX 17:8-13) .
Then Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down.”
God gave the victory through Moses receiving help from attentive friends and family coming to his side.
My friends Paul and Jenni and my wife Paige recently worked hard to persuade me to allow them to help me lift my hands.
I recognize that when my hands are up, God is working.
I also recognize that I get tired and cannot keep my hands up as long as I like.
My feelings were telling me that better men would hold their hands up higher.
Maybe that’s true.
It is quite likely true.
Even still, my feelings used this to persuade me to put my hands down altogether.
All OR Nothing.
Paul, Jenni and Paige were good to remind me by God’s grace that His work is accomplished by me and in me and through me in receiving help from Him and His people as an utterly dependent, weak man.
I am ready to be weak again.
I am tired of trying to be strong on my own.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

day no. 12,951: stick a fork in the road in me, am i done?

(this is a preemptive P.S. stating that this was written a few weeks back when I was feeling particularly worn out.  God has since refreshed my heart and head.  That isn't to say that ministry isn't still difficult, but to say that God provided some encouragement from His children for me that persevered me through this period of exhaustion. I don't know if anyone can compete with horses.  But with God's help and by His grace, He strengthens us to keep running with whomever and whatever He brings onto our race track)

Jeremiah 12:5

If you have raced with runners
and they have worn you out,
how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble in a peaceful land,
what will you do in the thickets of the Jordan?
The answer is rhetorical: you can’t.
If you can’t keep up with people, you won’t keep up with horses.
If you can’t walk well on flat land, you will not walk well when the road gets bumpy.
Jeremiah was grouchy that life and ministry were not turning out the way he had hoped they would.
I can relate to Jeremiah.
In contrast to Jeremiah, however, my disappointment is not with God or the people around me: it is with me.
Don’t get me wrong, I do get frustrated with people when they prove more difficult than I had hoped, but I am more disappointed with how incapable and unqualified I often feel in addressing the mess of ministry.
I am left wondering.
Am I tired because I am not meant to compete with horses?
Am I tired because I am training to compete with horses?

Monday, April 7, 2014

day no. 12,950: stand up for manhood‏

My friend, Joel Vint, sent this to me today.

This may be my new favorite King Jamesism taking the place of “shew thyself approve” and “certain lewd fellows of the baser sort.”
I looked it up. The KJV is legit on this one. It literally is “against the wall any that urinate” in Hebrew.
Why does any of this matter?
There is something emasculating about forcing a man to sit down to piss.
It’s weird and unusual.
It’s not sin per se, but it’s wrong on some level.
Manhood and being male are two different things for sure.
Lord knows I am still trying to receive and live out of a manhood defined by God through Christ.
I’m not a man among men, but I do pisseth against the wall.
I’ll be punching that on my man card.
Grows a beard? Check
Pisseth against the wall? Check
It’s not a long resume, but it’s the manliest stuff I got to date.