Monday, January 31, 2011

I Believe, Help My Unbelief

“I believe, help my unbelief.”

All eloquence and prose of the English language cannot sum up the emotion and power within those five words. When a soul is brought so low to utter this in prayer there is certainly a great yearning deep within, but to utter it would be to speak unjustly of it and thus demean the weightiness of the issue.

There is no way to sway away the tears from the eyes of the one who prays this, it is a task only God can do, only in his arms will one find the safety one so desperately needs. The pining of one's heart and the longing of the spirit is for God to comfort and calm, for God to save and redeem, for God to fix and mend.

And as the night has grown to its darkest point the dawn begins to creep in and the tormented soul begins to see the light of God’s irrefutable goodness. In the pale morning light the mourner recognizes he stand on the opposite side of the valley from whence he began. And, thus, begins to ascend to the top of the mountain in sweet remembrance of how God taught him as a teacher a pupil.

How he had, for years, been patiently repeating the same lesson and calmly prodding the child to learn it well. How he brought in guest lecturers to wax eloquently about the lesson to the student who enjoyed the toys more than the work. How he had stooped onto the child’s level and talked to him in words he knew quite well and taught him the lesson in detail. How he held the students hand when the lesson was driven home, and how he continues to teach the lesson to a pupil who now stands in awe of the teacher’s wisdom.

And thus the student wanderer has come through the valley of sheer darkness to see in the radiance of the cool morning light all the torment and fear he has been brought through. Now as he looks ahead he sees the sea of grace that has already swallowed him, the sea that will indeed carry him home.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Confused Duality

Sinful is what I am. A sinner is what I have been; a sinner is what I will be. Though I press at every fold of all of my flesh sin still remains so entwined with my very being that I cannot escape it. I rant and I rave, I ache and I cry, I fight and I scream but I remain so very much within me.

All I do will not help my plight. All my stabbing at a spiritual foe will not make him die. I cannot kill him. Thank God.

I cannot kill him, thank God. I cannot slay my archenemy, thank God. I cannot take him behind the shed and bloody his lip, thank God. It’s already been done.

The fight has been fought. The killer has been killed. His lip has been bloodied. The battle has been won.

Then why is the struggle so very apparent? If the fight has already been finished then why is all of life called a ‘fight’? Why does every moment feel like a desperate tooth and nail battle?

Because this enemy is so entrenched within our being there is much fighting to be fought before the war is over. The decisive battle is over, like Normandy in World War II, the enemy is defeated but it is the downhill slope within which the enemy fights fiercer than ever. But this battle is against ourselves.

“My enemy and I are one and the same. (Brooke Fraser)”

All of Romans 7 speaks to this duality of a Christian’s nature. Where one side yells, “I am redeemed by the blood of Jesus!” and the other screams in defiance, “It’s my life! MINE!”

Welcome to the Christian life oh Christian. Welcome to the fight. The battle will be exhausting, the tears numerous, the pain intense, but the Reward will be worth it. The glory of God in the face of Jesus.

Monday, January 24, 2011

An Occurrence of Worship

I have seen multiple countries. I have seen the pyramids. I have seen the empty tomb. I have seen the place of the skull. I have seen the waters of the Nile and the Jordan. I have seen the sunrise from the window of a plane creating a grand canyon in the clouds. I have seen the Grand Canyon. But those sights do not, nor cannot compare to seeing uninhibited worship.

Eyes weeping and arms outstretched, lungs singing as much and best as they can “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” This is more beautiful than all the sunrises these eyes have seen.

“What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” A room full of people singing, this chorus of sinful saints singing their only hope.

All gathered for one purpose, all singing for one purpose, because they have seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus. His beauty is beheld so deep in their souls they must, for they are bound by his beauty, run to him.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” (Isaiah 9:2) Their Redeemer has come. Their conquering King is reigning. Their beautiful Savior has paid their penalty. Mercy and grace flow unmingled down from God, for the Gospel has been (and is being) believed, and the dead are now alive.

Therefore this worship may occur. Those who once lived in complete slavery to sin are now free to weep at the remembrance of their redemption; free to lift their arms, for the shackles are gone, in adoration of their King; free to sing with all their might of the blood that washed (and is washing) away their sins.

This was Sunday morning at Journey the Way.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Why I Blog, Tweet, & Facebook (3of3)

This is the last of 3 posts. Here is the First post, and Here is the Second post

After realizing the sin of my me-centered motivations within my heart, and my head, there began a “re-learning” of things. Walking again the elementary paths of my youth. Treading down the one-time well-worn paths now overgrown with weeds, to once again see the sights of where I had been. Again taking hold of the Scriptures (though this time more firmly) and being broken by them. To be re-taught that God is the end and the aim of my life, and that the term ‘my life’ is in every meaning of the word a ‘contradiction’.

Yet in this re-learning there came a re-wondering of the proclivity of pride within my heart. Here is where I began to question the intentionality of myself being very present on Twitter, Facebook, and the Blogging realm. Am I here to be heard? Am I here to be seen, marveled at, or gain a position? What is the reason for which I write/tweet/facebook?

I suppose in the end the one reason I have not deleted all three accounts is answered in this one statement: To the glory of God. “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Eph 4:11-14)

I am a pastor, it is my job/calling to serve the Church and equip them for the work of ministry. Therefore I blog, tweet, and facebook to, by the grace of God, be used to help in the maturing of believers so as to avoid irreverent silly myths (I Tim. 4:7) to the glory of God. I am also a sinner, and as such will constantly be fighting to not desire praise for my status, tweets and blog.

As a pastor I’ll cling to the Gospel. As a sinner I’ll cling to the Gospel. For, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why I Blog, Tweet, & Facebook (2of3)

The second of three posts the first may be read here

While reading through Edwards’ “The End for which God Created the World” I began realizing two major things. 1) That the motivation or intentionality behind the vast majority of why I studied and read so vigorously was wrong. 2) The passion that was in my heart for ministry may not have been my own passion (this was first suggested by a dear friend then reiterated through this reading).

First, I’ll explain the first point (novel idea) motivations/intentionality.

Most may believe pastors to have pure motives to study and learn as much about God as possible. False. We, pastors, are just as much sinners as any other believer. Therefore we have tainted motives just like any other believer.

Confession: the vast majority of all the study I did before I was a pastor was for the sole purpose of becoming a pastor. The end to which I toiled and strove was for the gaining of a position…

Edwards, through the implementation of God, showed my intentions to be what they truly were, fake. For the end for which God created the world was for his own glory. But the end for which Sam studied the Bible was for Sam’s own glory… Do you see the disconnect? See the fakeness? The reason for studying is the glory of God, not self.

(For very clear evidence of this look in this blogs history, 2010, and see the very visible gap of no posts from February to August. I write because I'm learning. This gap is the gap of someone who thinks they have arrived and no longer need to learn, which is a stupid idea.)

Second, my living a life of borrowed passion.

There are few men who can preach like John Piper, Mark Driscoll, and Matt Chandler theses dudes can bring it. But here is, again, where I fell off the map. In listening to these men I gleaned not only information but also their intensity. The passion they had for something become the reason I was passionate about something. I was not passionate about the Gospel because it is, “the power of God to salvation (Rom 1:16)” I was passionate about the Gospel because it was the strength of the way Mark Driscoll talked about it…

This, my friends, is called sin. On both counts, on the count of studying for prominence and preeminence, guilty, on the count of someone-else centered passion (as opposed to God-centered passion), guilty. The depth of these I am still mining, but they are now known sins to me (and you).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why I Blog, Tweet, & Facebook (1of3)

This subject has been something that my mind has been debating for a few weeks. Let me chronicle why/how this came up, reveal some of the debates I went through, and finally give my reason for remaining present on these three major social media networks.

On more of a reader note: this will be a three-post deal.
The wrestle began almost two months ago. As I laced up my shoes one morning before class I thought, “You know what would be cool? Going and teaching at a university.” This thought probably sounded like an atomic bomb in my brain (you know, if thoughts had noises). For being a good student of Charles Spurgeon I quite quickly remembered the phrase, “a fire in your bones… the minister, if he feels he may be satisfied doing anything else ought never to be a minister. (‘Lectures to my Students’ paraphrase)”

This instantly began a deep worry within my soul. Questioning everything I’d learned for so long. Questioning the intentionality behind why I had done much of what I did/learned/read.

My mind was quite literally paralyzed. Teaching my Community Group that night was more unproductive than if I had not gone. ‘A tailspin’ or ‘crashing and burning’ or even ‘dead in the water’ would have described the next few days (perhaps even weeks) of my life. There was no passion nor drive, no desire nor motivation.

Sitting on my bookshelf at home was a copy of John Piper’s “God’s Passion for His Glory” I had read it twice before, but never really sat in its pages nor steeped in its depths.

I picked it up; more out of a last ditch effort than a thought of new beginnings. I consumed the introduction, devoured the first, second, and third chapter. Then I got to the meat: Jonathan Edwards’ “The End for which God Created the World”. It killed me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Waking Up

“It’s like the breath before jumping in the water; the first few groggy moments of being awake; or when the light is first turned on and blinds you. There is a restlessness, a tension, a feeling of change or thrill. The stupor which once compounded the whole of one’s existence is wearing thin and wearing off.”

If I were asked to describe my city those are the words I’d use. This is a city on the verge of much greater things. A city with youngness and oldness nailed to its identity. A city with shades of its decadent past showing through in boarded up windows on Douglas Street; a city with its vibrant future showing in places like Meads Corner and The Anchor.

I’m not in any manner claiming to be prophetic or clairvoyant in any fashion, I am merely stating the plainly obvious, the Wichita I grew up with is about to be radically different.

‘Why’ you may ask, ‘Why is Wichita about to be radically different?’ I could answer with the maturing music scene or the developing art shows, but those are not the thing itself. I could point to places like Meads Corner or The Anchor but those are not the thing itself. I could even say my own church, Journey the Way, but it is not the thing itself.

In a word, Jesus; in a phrase; the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ this God-man must be dealt with and this dealing will define the future of Wichita. The verge we stand on is the verge of belief or disbelief. The water we’re jumping into is the ocean of grace. The blinding light we are seeing is the glory of God. The grogginess and stupor will soon wear away and reveal us to be fully and finally alive.

This will define us, for all of our lives this will define us. It is true that many will wonder at the credibility of this ‘Jesus’ and some will kick and scream that this is not the answer to the reason why Wichita is changing, but I would challenge any and all to delve deeply into Scripture and come up saying anything different.

How we, now, deal with Jesus will define all of tomorrow and all of forever, and Wichita will never fully recover from the wonder of the Gospel.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Vivid Life

Often we speak on deep theological terms (often I write about those very terms). Often we like to get our heads all caught up in the esoteric clouds of reasoning or big words. But the descent out of those foggy clouds is the part we desire most.

For in the trek through the mountains of high-thought and around misty corners of the unknown we learn to lean on a God who must become our strength. Though the temptation is to love one’s brain more than God, God proves himself, time and time again to be worthy of all our trust.

But in the descent, the journey down from misty heights, we behold the rising sun more vividly than ever before. We see through the crisp clear air with eyes that had become accustomed to the fog. Miles upon miles stretch before our eyes revealing mountain after mountain with their heads hidden softly in the clouds.

The beauty of a leaf; the freshness of the air, the feeling of turning the page; life is in our eyes, our lungs and our hands. We comprehend, by the sheer grace of God, one more small portion of God. We notice the impact this small understanding is becoming, like a rock thrown on a placid lake, but these ripples will change everything.

‘Irresistible’ is the best adjective we can give to these moments. The greatness of the glory of God is drawing us closer. We are being given one more small taste of eternity. One more small glimmer of splendor, and oh, is it beautiful!

Therefore we looked to learn about this God of Scripture. Though he is not tame, he is good. Though he is not lucrative, he is worthy. And though he will demand our lives, he is our all.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Inherent Evil ≠ Inherent Good

“You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, ‘How have we wearied him?’ By saying, ‘everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.’ Or by asking, ‘Where is the God of justice?’” (Malachi 2:17)

Here’s what came to mind when I read this, “The doctrine of the understanding of man in modern times consists of the basic goodness of man. It is said that everyone is basically good, you just have to look hard for each individual’s goodness.”

… Uh-huh, sounds like the current doctrine of the understanding of the ‘goodness’ of man is a tiresome paragraph to God.

Psalms 14:1-3, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

Psalms 53:1-3 says nearly exactly the same thing as Psalms 14:1-3 and both of these are quoted in Romans 3:10. Scripture 3 times says, “There is no one who does good, not even one.”

But we still cling to the decadent idea that we are inherently good. We cuddle up closely to the damning lie that we are good. Good enough to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. Good enough to choose a holy God. When Scripture makes it crystal clear that there is no one who does good, not. Even. One.

“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25) Or say it another way, ‘O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body that can do no good? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!’

Jesus is the only one capable of freeing you from your constant evilness to allow you to perform God-honoring good acts. As it is hard for a dead man to pull himself up by his bootstraps it is similarly hard for an unbeliever to do good.

The Gospel must be believed and taught for all of one’s life.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Cost & Worth of Knowledge

I haven’t been at this Theology bit for too terribly long. In the scheme of my life it only comprises one quarter of it. But the more I study, the more I read, and the more Scripture I understand the more I realize I am a hiker digging into the face of a glacier with a child’s plastic beach shovel.

Indeed it has been a costly time by many people’s standards. I’m a college kid that will never know the ‘college life’. I’m a young man that will never sleep with multiple women nor will I waste numerous days on video games. And to be very honest and blunt, there are some days where all I want to do is be a ‘normal college kid’ and do all those things.

Piper said it well in an old blog post

“’For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases in knowledge increases in sorrow. (Ecclesiastes 1:18)’
“That is true. It’s true because the more we know…
…the more we know that we don’t know.
…the more we know that suffering abounds.
…the more we are accountable to live up to.
…the more dementia will take away.
But it is worth it.
‘There is gold and abundance of costly stones; but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel. (Proverbs 20:15)’
‘You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32)’”

I agree. It’s worth it. It’s worth it to study the maker of all sciences, mathematics, and history. It’s worth it to study something you’ll spend your whole life on and never fully understand. It’s worth it to be captivated by the Maker of the stars.

Though it may cost you ‘life points’ the profitableness of knowing God far outweighs the fleeting pleasures of sin. Therefore, “Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth. (Hosea 6:3)”

Monday, January 10, 2011

This Must be Dealt With

He is the radiance of the glory of God the exact imprint of his nature, having finished his work he now sits at the right hand of the throne on high (Heb 1:3). God’s glory is seen in his face (2 Cor 4:6). He is the God-man Jesus Christ (Phil 2:8).

Jesus the one who saves us (Isaiah 53; Rom 5:8; 8:1), who intercedes on our behalf (2 Cor 5:21), who was tempted in every way like us but without sin (Heb 4:15). The King from before the foundation of the world (John 1); the One who upholds the Universe by the word of His power (Heb 1:3).

The stumbling block to the ‘wise’(1 Cor 1:23) and wisdom to the called, the wisdom of God, the bearnger of good news, the greatest news possible, the Shepherd of his sheep (John 10:11), the Keeper of the called (John 17), the Redeemer of the Church (Matt. 16:18-20).

This is the King we worship; the one we bow before, the one we, if called to, die for. This is Jesus: King of all possible kings past, present or future Prince of unimaginable peace, Servant to all whom he loves. Master, Ruler, Lord, Savior, Potentate, Majesty any and all of the descriptions of greatness, worth, beauty, excellence and glory must be given to Him.

We say he ‘wants’ or lives but we fall short in this statement. He does not merely ‘want’ our lives… He demands them. Don’t come half way with what he ‘wants’ understand the gravity of the situation and that he demands your life (life that is not yours at all) from you. If you clam a stake in the inheritance he bought at the price of his life, then similarly own the demand of your life, the life he laid claim to at Calvary. The life he gave, and gives you.

Oh Christian breathe deeply the free air of the grace of God. You are free. Completely free to revel in the glory of God, free to chase this God that wooed you with himself to himself. Free to go, as Lewis says, “Further up and further in.” to who God is. Free to be passionately in love with Him. Free to move furniture to His glory. Free to work for His glory. Free to take a test to His glory.

So be enthralled with this God of Scripture. Being obsessed with this King of the World. Be head-over-heals in love with the Redeemer of your souls. Be transfixed by His unsurpassed beauty.

For the sake of his name he deferred his anger from you (Isaiah 48:9-11). Therefore you are free to glory in your King.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Greatness & Goodness

God is good all the time, and all the time God is good. This is an easy statement within Christianity. It is said and repeated by Church’s on Sunday morning, it begins prayers and ends them, but what about in pain?

He remains irrefutably good. When your heart is breaking and you feel it will require all your strength to walk to your car. When the simple formulation of an idea within your brain feels like needles being simultaneously wrenched down on your skull. When a man who has been a key figure in your life lies dead in the coffin. When you feel utterly alone; when your tears and screams fall into bitter silence; when the always-gleeful dog is just as depressed as you are.

He is good. He is enough. The fountain of God is continually overflowing. The radiance of his light is always shining. He is the fullness of all the goodness you could ever want to hope or know. He is your fortress.

All of that is easy to say. Indeed it may be simple to read. But in your heart it must be applied as a bandage to the wound. Only then will your waking eyes see this goodness. Only then will his radiance be beheld.

“For he made him who knew no sin to be sin so that you might become the righteousness of God; for while you were still a sinner Christ died for you; there is therefore now no condemnation for you who are in Christ Jesus; for God who said, ‘let light shine out of darkness’ has shone in your dark heart to reveal the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:8; 8:1; 2Cor 4:6)

I know of no better way to say it than this: Be at peace in the greatness of the goodness of the glory of God, which you have been shone by the grace of your wondrous God.

Therefore when the broken heart is present, the greatness of God is seen. When the formulation of an idea is an unbearable pain, the peace of God will reign. When the man lays dead, the goodness of God wells up. When you feel utterly alone and the tears and screams fall on bitter silence and the gleeful dog is depressed, the glory of God will sustain.

For “…we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28)” Therefore Christian, “Walk in a manner worthy of your calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:1-3)

Hard Reading = Growth

Alright, you (my readers, all 3 of you) may have noticed a change in the flavor of my posts. I blame Jonathan Edwards.

For the past month or so, I have been reading "God's Passion for His Glory" a two part book, the first being John Piper writing about the man and themes of Jonathan Edwards. The second is Jonathan Edwards' treaties "The End for which God Created the World" and it is without-a-doubt one of the most difficult reads I have undertaken since the last time I read it.

However, this time around I've committed to journalling my thoughts and steeping in Edwards' themes. And, O-dang, things are different.

I do believe my outlook on life is different, my reason for ministry is different, my reason for blogging is different. Shoot, I might as well say my reason for being is different. Not because Edwards is adapt at making things understandable (cause he's not) but because God used Edwards mightily when he was living and even more so now that he's dead. Indeed he fought the good fight of faith.

So if your looking for a good read, read "God's Passion for His Glory" though it will be difficult, I promise you it will be worth it.

The end. Imma go read.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Theology is Important

Theology, the study of God, is more important to me now than it was two months ago.

I am constantly telling people to find their identity in God rather than things or people. But here is the catch, how can someone find their identity in someone they don’t know?

All day long people can strive to press themselves to find their sole identity in God, but, quite frankly, if they are not studying who God is, their striving is an effort in futility. For their identity will be in the god of their own mind, their own conjured up fantasy of a god, not the God that created their mind who has revealed himself in Scripture.

Theology, the study of God, is a daily necessity. He is good and he is enough to satisfy all wants, and therefore he ought to be the believer’s first desire. He is irresistible.

But the problem is that we often relocate him to the position of bellboy when he is the source of life; we toss him a prayer rather than admitting he is the sole reason for existence and his glory is the last end of our lives.

All glory belongs to God and will return to God, this is true, yet I fear we will be left to wander as the Israelites in the wilderness simply because we do not know the God we ‘love’ and ‘serve’. Thus we ought to study and get to know this God who 1) made us, 2) redeemed us, 3) is redeeming us, and 4) will give us himself for all eternity.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Late Night Musing

I have no ten-year plan; I have no five-year plan; shoot I barely have a tomorrow plan. There is no grand dream pressing my every action forward, no beautiful canvas of my life, and no pebble beaches for me to walk down side-by-side with someone.

The only plan I’ve got is to work the hell out of life to the glory of God then die. I will talk to the many thousands of people in hundreds of coffee shops and, by God’s grace they will hear of his fame. I will minister deeply to a few people, and by God’s grace the will see and feel a portion of Jesus. I will preach sermons to eager (and languid) ears, and by God’s grace, they will be regenerated by the Holy Spirit in the Gospel.

‘Only one life, will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.’ “He is the radiance of the glory of God. (Heb 1:3)” In all my striving for the glory of God, glory must be in its truest form, namely Jesus. Therefore, “To live is Christ (Phil 1:21)”

“Let life and kindred go, this mortal life also.” I cannot take stuff with me; I cannot take my iPhone with me. I cannot take my books, or my guitar, or my dog. I can’t even take my flesh with me.

So the plan remains unchanged, work the hell out of life to the glory of God then die… Cause there is nothing else that draws me in so irresistibly than God in all his infinite glory.

I suppose in that sense there is a grand scheme pressing all my actions forward, there is a beautiful canvas to my life, and there is a pebble beach for me to walk down side-by-side with someone. It is the grand scheme of the glory of God. It is the beautiful canvas of the glory of God. It is the person of the glory of God (Jesus) for me to walk with.

God’s glory must be esteemed (considered) first in all regards (in all actions, thoughts, or intentions).

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Thoughts on Zechariah 3:1-5

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, "The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?" Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, "Remove the filthy garments from him." And to him he said, "Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments." And I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by. (Zechariah 3:1-5)

Yeah, this passage made my mind go *pop* when I read it.

As a believer in the Gospel this is your judgement day. Your iniquity has been taken away, you've been clothed in pure vestments, you've been plucked from the fire. Though you may be 'weary of earth, yourself, and sin.' your earth will be made new, yourself will be resurrected perfectly, and your sin was nailed to a cross two-thousand years ago.

Jesus. His name is power. His work is complete. And, you, the benefactor of his propitiatory punishment and resurrection are redeemed. Therefore rejoice for freedom has come. You are free to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus. You are free to be profoundly enthralled with the God who created you. You are free to glorify your Redeeming King in your being satisfied by who. He. Is.

You are free to glorify God because he saved you for his namesake.

"For my name's sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another." (Isaiah 48:9-11)

Monday, January 3, 2011

God Demanded Change

“There’s a wideness in God’s mercy I cannot find in my heart, and it keeps the fire burning to melt this heart of stone… keeps me glad to have been caught in the reckless raging furry that they call the ‘love of God. (Rich Mullins ‘The Love of God’)”

“I will gladly lay down my sword for the joy of seeing your country. (Reepicheep ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ movie)”

“…To die is gain. (Paul Phil 1:21)”

The quotes are numerous. The thoughts are beautiful, the ideas oddly, and providentially similar to one another. Christian theological writings are replete with these themes of the mercy of God and the joy of the believer in going ‘home’.

Most would call this a morbid obsession with death, but as believers we call it the beginning. I read on Facebook yesterday, “Death is the best thing that can happen to a Christian.” Not only do I wholeheartedly agree but also I often catch myself daydreaming of what it will be like to die. Not so much the manner in which it will happen, but what it will feel like and what my soul, that living part of me, will be feeling.

However, I have a fear in all of our looking’s to the end we will overpass, forget, or simply step out of the present. Don’t get me wrong; I’m right beside Moses looking to the reward because the reward surpasses all the treasures of America (Heb. 11:23-28). But we cannot, must not, nor ever should forget the first half of Philippians 1:21, “To live is Christ…”
To live-to take breath, to see creation, to feel emotion, to love, to read, to write, to speak-is Christ! Believer you are to be being made into the image of Jesus, therefore for you to live it is Christ. Every moment of every day of all of your gifted undeserved life is to be as Christ A.K.A to the glory of God. For Jesus is, “the radiance of the glory of God… (Heb 1:3)” Thus to live as Christ is to live as the glory of God.

It is a high calling (Ehp 4:1) and as such demands from God (it’s not what he wants from your life, he demands it) your entirety. It demands your thoughts to be made new. It demands your intentions to change completely. It demands your movie choices to change. It demands your heart to love God-honoring things rather than the mire.

“To live is Christ to die is gain.”

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Read

Reading is important. If you had told me this 8 years ago I would’ve said, “Uh-huh, whatever.” If you had told me this even 5 years ago the answer would remain the same. But reading is important.

Classic novels are fantastic, a good piece of fiction is a happy read, autobiography insightful, and textbooks… well they’re textbooks what do you want me to say. But there is one type of book, which stands above all others, namely Theology. (Let me add a qualifier, *good* Theology.)

Theology-the study of God- must be the most important type of reading we can partake in; for, reasonably speaking, if all the world is created by God then all the studies and disciplines contained within creation (engineering, medicine, philosophy, anthropology, etc.) are studies in creation. However, the study of God would be the study of the maker of all other disciplines (the maker of all creation). Therefore, “The highest and most excellent knowledge we may possess is that of God… (John Calvin)”

“It is a thing infinitely good in itself that God’s glory should be known by a glorious society of created beings. And that there should be in them an increasing knowledge of God to all eternity, is worthy to be regarded by him, to whom it belongs to order what is fittest and best. If existence is more worthy than defect and non-entity, and if any created existence is in itself worthy to be, then knowledge is; and if any knowledge, then the most excellent sort of knowledge, viz. that of God and his glory. This knowledge is one of the highest, most real, and substantial parts of all created existence, most remote from non-entity and defect. (Jonathan Edwards ‘The End for which God Created the World’)”

All this to say, you exist, you live and move and have breath therefore strive to know that which is ‘highest, most real, and substantial’ namely God and his glory, for it is furthest from non-existence. But how is this possible, to know God and his glory?

1) Revelation, it is impossible to know God and his glory unless you be apart of that ‘glorious society’ the Church (capital ‘C’ means those redeemed by the finished work of Jesus, not merely on a membership role).

2) Reading. Reading good biblical theological books. Books like John Piper’s “Desiring God” or Charles Spurgeon’s “The Treasury of David” or Jonathan Edwards “Religious Affections” books that make you grab a dictionary and look up a word. Books that move your soul to humility. Books that make you weep from realization that your ‘god’ is not the God.

“This knowledge [of God and his glory] is one of the highest, most real, and substantial parts of all created existence, most remote from non-entity and defect.” Read. Theological. Books.