Friday, December 11, 2009

He is both Good and Great

Common questions for those within the Church and those outside of it often revolve around the problem of evil. Below is a look at one of many...

If Satan at some point rebelled against God and this is the most "original Sin" that we know of, then why did God allow him to live? He could have squashed him and destroyed both he and sin. Why would he allow Satan to "deceive the Nations", instead of simply ending him right in that moment. Doing away with all evil.

The question is oddly enough a doubt that Satan might even use himself to attack and accuse the character of God, just like he did with Eve in the Garden. "Why would God allow such a thing? Could he really be all powerful and all good if he did not crush this act of Rebellion?"

The answer is Yes. Satan along with all of the Hosts of heaven (angels) lived in the very presence of God and his magnificence. However, these being are not all knowing, they are created and thus have room within them for experience and understanding (knowing something by watching and observing). 1 Peter speaks on this when he tells us that the unfolding of history and God's restoration of all creation is something "on which angels long to look". Thus Angels are capable of knowing God and seeing him work, by virtue of the fact that they exist, are able to be amazed, and they are not all knowing.
So when Satan rebelled, God could have crushed this rebellion under him with one fatal sweep. In doing this he would have answered, beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is Great. He is powerful, and not one to rebel against. Thus he would have answered the question "Is he Great?" But one question would have remained..."Is he Good?" Had he done this, it would not have been as clear. He could have appeared as a ruler who is one to be feared, but perhaps not loved.

But not only is he Great, he is Good. He did not crush Satan in that moment and put Sin to death. He came to the earth he created and was put to death for sin. In this magnificent act, he answered once and for all not only am I great, I am good. One day he will powerfully remove the presence of Sin from all who love him. But for those who choose to worship themselves, rather than God (just like Satan did, and we all do, apart from Christ working in us), he will honor their decision for ALL of Eternity in eternal suffering. All people and angels will one day bow before him, and all of us, will know by experience not only is he GREAT, but HE is GOOD...

God you are good...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

There's no chocolate in Heaven?


"The letter and spirit of Scripture, and of all Christianity, forbid us to suppose that life in the New Creation will be a sexual life; and this reduces our imagination to the withering alternative either of bodies which are hardly recognizable as human bodies at all or else of a perpetual fast. As regards the fast, I think our present outlook might be like that of a small boy who, on being told that the sexual act was the highest bodily pleasure, should immediately ask whether you ate chocolates at the same time. On receiving the answer no, he might regard absence of chocolates as the chief characteristic of sexuality. In vain would you tell him that the reason why lovers in their carnal raptures don't bother about chocolates is that they have something better to think of. The boy knows chocolate: he does not know the positive thing that excludes it. We are in the same position. We know the sexual life; we do not know, except in glimpses, the other thing which, in Heaven, will leave no room for it."-C.S. Lewis "Miracles"...
The highest pleasure we currently can imagine is not even worth comparing to the incomprehensible Pleasure, Joy, Peace, Life that "no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined,". And oh to taste, to know much more than a page, to feel your embrace...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Prayer with thanksgiving...

Matthew Henry is a well-known bible commentator who lived during the 17th century in England. He one day was robbed and that evening made the following Entry in his diary:
"Let me be thankful- First because I was never robbed before; second because although they took my wallet they did not take my life; third because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed." - Matthew Henry


"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything with prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding with guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

-The scriptures would tell us that when we pray, we are to have an understanding that we own nothing, are entitled to nothing, and ourselves own nothing. All we have, even our own lives are a gift from God and are to be counted as such. So when we pray, we do it knowing that everything we have is a gift. God rightfully sits over all of life and so we pray knowing that, thus we are thankful for what we have, seeing everything... EVERY THING as a gift. Every day, every good experience, every single thing is not ours but God's. So we pray knowing that we are not entitled to anything, and we brought nothing into this world and will take nothing away from it. He is good and in control, and we trust this. Nothing is ours and we are to remember this... Even as we pray. So we trust his goodness and his sovereignty that he is in control and working together all things for his glory and our good... Oh to pray the way that Matthew Henry did...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"In my distress I cried to him, and he answered me."-Psalm 120:1

Distress, brokenness, death, sickness, pain, sin, our world is filled with them. All around us we see clearly that creation that has fallen under sin. It is no secret or debate that things in this life are not perfect. Man whether he believes in God or not rarely deny this. In fact, the problem of “evil” or “sin” is often present as one of the primary arguments against the existence of the "all loving, and all powerful God" the bible portrays. However, C.S. Lewis brilliantly defends that the very fact that mankind has moral understanding inside of them that declares things are not as they should be, is more of an argument for the existence of a bestower of this “sense of morality” rather than for his nonexistence. More simply, the fact that mankind perceives that there is something wrong in the world, demonstrates that some thing at some point implanted a sense of right and wrong within us. The bible tells us that this come from man being made in the "image of God" (Gen 1:26-27), and because of this "the work of the law is written on our hearts"(Romans 2:15). But God doesn't leave us with just a understanding of the “death” around us, but provides us a “way” into “life”, Through the the death of his son, Jesus, who is called both"the way" and "the life" (John:14:6). It further says that Jesus is currently reconciling all things to himself(Col 1:20); and some day he who rode into Jerusalem atop a donkey who was "put to death for sin", will come again this time riding on a "white horse" and will "put all sin to death"(Rev. 19:11). So God has “answered us in our distress”, his answer was the death of his Son. God has made "him who knew no sin, be sin so that, we might become the righteousness of God." (2Cor. 5:21). He did not answer the cries of his son to "take this cup from him" (Luke 22:42), or his cries "My God my God why have you abandoned me?”(Psalm 22), so that he may answer our need for a savior. He has heard our cries…

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

If grace is an Ocean we're all sinking...

When the Lord [brought us back to him]
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad. Psalm 126:1-3

The story of the Gospel is one beyond words... all of us like sheep have gone astray. But God being rich in mercy demonstrates his Love for us in this that while we profaned his name, spit in his face, murdered, perverted, and destroyed his creation, while mocking his power and glory...he died for us. He is both Good and Great, but those words fail to describe the anointed and blessed redeemer whose name is Jesus. We all have hurts, problems, aches, and habits that lead us to death and destruction. But God is rich in mercy, he loved us even in our rebellion and continues to love even as we rebel. Could he have destroyed Satan and Man immediately upon Satan's Rebellion against God, or destroyed man in his initial "fall" in the Garden of eden. Yes! Yes he could have wiped out all who betray him, responding in a way that clearly depicts he is great, powerful, mighty, and a King who is not to be questioned. Answering the question "is this God great?". But one question would have remained..."Is he good?" So God, in his goodness withheld his annihilation of sin and rebellion and came into the world and died on a cross for us. Living the life we could not live and dying the death that we were to die. "He made him who knew know sin, to be sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God". God made Jesus sin, and he put him to death. In this sin lost its power and was put to death, and death was died. He left all to see that not only is he GREAT, but he is GOOD. This is the God of the bible, this is the story of our existence. We all are so infested and infected with sin that we are incapable of eradicating the sinful habits, hang-ups, and issues that plague us and lead us to destruction. But he did not leave us alone. He offers hope for our ways, life for our death, and loves us amidst all our rebellion. He is unquestionably and emphatically Good, and he offers life. He is our Great and Good King. And So we who know Jesus are like those who dream, we are filled with joy and laughter. You have done great things for us. You are our healer...

Oh My God we are unworthy of you... we are unworthy...
"What are we that you are mindful of us?"
"Not to us Oh Lord, But to your name be Glory" for what you have done.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

He fell asleep...

"For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep" Acts 13:36

All of life comes down to just one thing, thats to know you owe Jesus and to make you known. The cross of Christ brings incredible freedom to believers. He died that we to may crucify our flesh and in dying truly live. After all he came that we may have life and have it abundantly. Thus, while on this earth his grace and mercy reign in us, in that though we outwardly are perishing we are being prepared for an eternal glory beyond all comparison. But if one has a small view of heaven he will miss out on the glorious end/beginning to which he has been ultimately destined. The bible is clear, the glorious existence of heaven will far outweigh anything that this life has ever had to offer. All sin and death will be eradicated and man will be restored from his body of death into one of everlasting life. Paul continually harped on the idea that this life is but a shadow of the one to come, (Heb 9), that it is far better to be away from this body and at home with Christ, (2cor5), and that to die is nothing less to gain (the opposite for unbelievers of course, where to die is loss, the ultimate, immeasurable, and unceasing loss). The immeasurable riches that are to be revealed are beyond us (who hope in Jesus), truly "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him (1 cor 6). David also declared this idea in stating that "one thing I ask, and all that I seek, is that I may gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and behold him in his temple"(Ps. 27:4). The eternal glory of heaven far surpasses all understanding that one could possibly imagine and makes every thing, even that which are good things, pale in such a way that Paul proclaims they are not even worth comparing (2cor4). Thus Jim Elliot was right "he is no fool who gives that which he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose." The idea of offering our bodies as a living sacrifice is such a minute and miniscule sacrifice when compared to the eternal blessing that Christ has gone to prepare for those who love him. In view of this God who became poor so that in his poverty we might become rich beyond all comparison is a moving, motivating, humbling, and beautiful thing. There is nothing foolish about giving the life that all of us will soon lose, to gain that which can never be lost. Paul knew that to live is Christ and to die is to gain...to gain. That word hardly begins to describe that which awaits us who place our hope in him. But words of any demeanor and in any earthly tongue will never begin to encapsulate that which he has given us. For this reason it is not foolish to lose your life that you may gain it. "But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24). The entire purpose of man, why you remain alive is that you may know God and make him known, and in doing so bring praise and glory to his name. My life is of no value and has no reason apart from me finishing the race he has set before me and declaring his name with every breath and fiber of my being. This is the entire purpose of mankind. No matter if you believe the gospel or not, and with this in mind, I long for heaven to put off this earthly body and put on the heavenly one. I long for that as Luke recorded of King David in Acts 13, for that day, when I have served the purpose of God in my life, I may fall asleep and awaken to the marvelous light he has destined me for...oh what a glorious Day. But for now, with all my might I will strive with all my might "that he powerfully work within me" to make the end of all that I do exemplify that to "Live is Christ". Until he calls me home...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Quoth the Raven "Nevermore"

The Raven
"Nevermore". The most famous poem that Edgar Allen Poe would leave behind speaks quite accurately of the state of things. It depicts of a student mourning the loss of a loved one. The raven that appears perched outside his home, startles him and as he confides to this bird the painful loss of never seeing his loved one again, he finds that the ravens only response is a cold "nevermore". This only amplifies his pain, as his is only further confronted with his loss.

This is true for many... but for those in Christ it is not true. "We want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died...Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words." 1 Thess 4

We have this treasure in Jars of clay...though we die, behold we shall live. But for many this is not the case, there is not a hope, this is not their case. God deliver your children, from ourselves...Quoth the Raven, Nevermore...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Declarations...

Inspired by the resolutions created by the young Jonathan Edwards... my own "declarations" may God be gracious to let me pursue them...

Declarations:

Declaration #1: I declare to aim with the best of my ability to perform at all times in a manner that: could and should others see my actions, they would give praise to my father who is in Heaven. Matt 5:16

Declaration #2: I declare to honor the temple of my body and withhold the utmost moderation, sobriety, temperance, and control. Recognizing the self-control is a fruit of the regenerated spirit (Gal 5:23) and that though all things are lawful to the one who is free in Christ, not all things are beneficial and I am not to be enslaved to any matter other than the Lord, his holiness, and goodness. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

Declaration #3: I declare to maintain a habit of and hunger for the study of the word of God so long as the habit of study provides the blessing of savoring him more and proclaiming his majesty to all the peoples of the earth.

Declaration #4: I declare to always maintain the practice of hiding his word in my heart (Deut 6:6, Colossians 3:16), and in this practice find the power to have victory over sin; “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you”-Ps. 119:11, as well as confidence in my witness the world around me.

Declaration#5: I declare to aim and toil to fulfill these declarations to the best of my ability, to look upon them often, and repent often of the ways that I have failed to honor them and dually my Lord and Savior who sits at the right hand of the throne of God.

Declaration #6: I declare to treat all men and women, from every tribe and tongue as though they themselves were Jesus, who is the Christ. Knowing that God loves them… loves all men and so honoring both the imago Dei, as well as Christ’s decree that “whatever you did for the least of these you did unto me” Matt 25:45

Declaration #7: To clothe myself in humility in all things, recognizing the reformers words that all of us “are beggars this is true”.

Declaration#8: To meditate often upon the doctrine of depravity, seeing not only that of Calvin’s followers who maintained the doctrine of Total Depravity. But also a doctrine of “Personal depravity”, knowing that all have fallen and are saved by grace, but I am deeply and totally fallen, wicked at my core, and it is only the grace of God working in me that produces supernaturally things not of the flesh but of the Spirit who is holy. And may the depravity and confessions of others stir my heart not towards disdain but compassion on them as I empathize with their condition and confession towards the Lord as I am confronted all the more with my own wickedness.

Declaration#9: I declare to think often upon my death asking the Lord to remind me that I am but a breath,(Psalm 39) and “it is better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting for this is the end of all mankind” (Ecclesiastes 6:2).

Declaration#10: I declare to fight for immense and intense happiness regardless of the situation and to transform even to darkest of circumstance into one of a more exciting experience.

Declaration#11: I declare to pursue with all my strength new forms of pleasure, excitement, exhilaration, and life for as long as air fills my lungs.

Declaration #12: I declare to receive instruction and wise counsel from young and old, knowing wisdom has many cupbearers and to apply any wise counsel to my life that in so doing would further manifest Christ’s power and Holiness here and to the world.

Declaration#13: I declare to Pursue fun, boundless amounts of fun and joy in every facet of my existence knowing that to live is to serve the author of Life, and to die is to gain his presence all the more.

Declaration#14: I declare to Love my family with all that I have, knowing that if one does not provide for the needs of his family he is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Tim 5:8).And should God see fit to bless me with a wife and/or Children to love them with all my might. Fighting for their joy, happiness, and pleasure as long as I shall live and to make provision for them as best I can even when I no longer live.

Declaration#15: I declare to until that time fight to regard all older men as fathers, older women as mothers, and all other men and women as sisters and brothers. Loving and respecting the elders, and protecting and providing for my brothers and sisters.

Declaration #16: I declare to lay down my life for the sake of Jesus Christ, dying daily for the greatest cause of all, and should the Lord see me worthy to give my earthly life know that there is “no greater love that of him who lays down his life”, and to count myself as blessed for being considered worthy to share in momentary sufferings for the sake of Christ.

Declarations#17: I declare to never see myself as above another, but make myself a slave to all men.

Declaration#18: I declare to become whatever I must (within my conscience) “that I might win some” 1 Cor. 9. Forsaking the disdain of the religious even if my actions should cause indignant feelings among the hyper-religious, and fight with all my heart for the lost and dying world.

Declaration#19: I declare to season my life and interactions in the most gracious way imaginable, erring on the side of grace with those who are young in faith, or ignorant of it. And take no measure of Judgment on others that I would not be delighted to turn and take on myself. (Matt. 7)

Declaration#20: I declare to warm every person I meet with love and to attempt to reflect the very face of Christ to every man or women, no matter their demographic or stage of life.

Declaration#21: I declare to pursue friendships, new and old. To deeply invest in those of the closest ring, but to seek every moment and interaction with strangers and new faces as an opportunity to make a new friend. And that by that new friendship our walks would be strengthened and encouraged or that the new relationship would initiate opportunity for some unfamiliar with the good news of Christ to become familiar with it.

Declaration#22: I declare to Fast, Pray, Rest, pursue silence and solitude, as well as the rest of the disciplines often and feverishly.

Declaration#23: I declare to give generously, to give of my time, my soul, myself, and my belongings knowing that it is far better to “be rich in good deeds”; and to remember that I brought nothing into this world and can take nothing out of it. (1 Tim 6)

Declaration#24: To be the best friend that I can, and to never avoid conflict, if its resolution would draw one of those involved (including myself ) to look more like Jesus. Many of us desire to look like him and I have far to many blind spots to do this alone.

Declaration#25: To be faithful, to make all my ambitions, dreams, and desires be rooted in this. Better to be poor, unknown, dying, having nothing, foolish, and faithful, than to be handsome, wealthy, famous, successful in gain, status ,or possession, and to be “a wave tossed about by the sea…”

A recent inquiry...

I have a friend who recently asked me this question in email, I think it is a good one, and one that deserves an answer:

His question..."I have been having this thought lately. Question 1:Do you think someone can love Jesus without knowing it? Question 2:And do you think Jesus is bigger than religions and can bring us together?"

My friend, forgive me for my the two days that have passed unanswered, good questions need good answers and seminary provides little time to suffice for such. Along with a job at a church...time is seldom. But I love you and miss you come to Dallas and let me buy you a meal. Hope my answers suffice

Question #2: Yes, I believe Jesus is far bigger than all religions. Religion I believe in a universal sense is a cultural expression. Christ is far greater than any cultural expression and calls his people not into begrudging obedience but freedom. He is greater than every system of religion, and for that matter greater than every system of culture, politics, race, nationality, all are cultural expressions transient in their nature and lack much of anything other than a sense of creativity. Christ calls us to relationship not religion. He invites us to come and know truth. It is not us expressing our moral laws, but rather Christianity is meant to be Christ expressing the truth of how things are at the deepest level of the universe and us accepting his beautiful and gracious invitation to walk in this truth. But I think the nature of the question is more aimed at can one be saved apart from faith in Jesus. No, I would side with Peter who said of Jesus that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12. He is the only way, the only truth, and the only real “life”. He will unite men from every tribe and tongue under his name, but it will be men and women who are saved only by the sacrifice he made, saving them by his grace through faith. He is supremely and enormously greater than all religions…

Question #1: Plato and Socrates both held to the idea that this world is but an expression of another one; a deeper and more true existence. They believed in a sovereign transcendant being who governed the universe, and the immortality of the soul. However I don’t know that they will be in heaven. Romans 1 says that man is a fool to claim that there is not such a being simply by looking around and within one sees this. It says “God has made it (his existence)plain to them, for his invisible attributes, namely eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made”, it continues that “although they knew God they did not honor him as God nor give thanks to him, but became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened”. So it is not simply being able to notice philosophically speaking there must be something behind the brilliant and magnificent workmanship we see in creation...With that said I believe that a “Rose called by any other name is still a rose, and doth smell just as sweet” (Shakespeare). And so through some sort of special revelation God may and could reveal himself to a person. But all are only saved by a saving faith in the God of the universe (this is the trinity…not saved by simply belief in "a God", but "the God" of the bible and all things. This does not mean one has to have read the bible, but has to worship the God of the universe as he has revealed himself…feel free to reply if I am not clear on this point), and that faith is justified as righteousness only by the blood of Jesus. But this leaves us with a plethora of questions for people throughout history and in isolated pockets of the world throughout time. In answer to this I find solstice in Genesis 18:25 “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” He will and does. Not what feels right, after all “there is a way that seems right to man that in the end leads to death” Proverbs 16:25. So it is not what seems right that will come into being, but what the scriptures tell us .We are by nature children of wrath and deserving of death. But God being rich in mercy entered into his own creation, bore the reproach of the cross, and paid for our sins that he might be both just and the justifier of those who have faith in Jesus. He is loving, but he is also holy. Thus only cross we see both his immense love for man in that he would die for me, and the incredible cost of my sin, in that it required the life of Jesus the son of God. Simply put it is at the cross we see the intersection of God's incredible love and his incredible holiness. Remember we all like sheep have gone astray and are justified only by his grace as a gift…Hope this helps...


"And they sang a new song:

"You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:

"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb

be praise and honor and glory and power,

for ever and ever!" They said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped."- Revelation 5

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Law fulfilled...

"Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself." Luke 24:26-27

The 39 books of the Old Testament are a baffling subject for most who are under the new covenant that Jesus established. Due to a lack of teaching in the church most of us are either unfamiliar with the purpose of the laws and rituals established in the Old Testament or at best disenchanted with them. But this must not be the case. The purpose of the law was given that Israel would have established rules and boundaries that would lead them into a deeper reality of life.

No one, Christian or not would say that “adultery” is a good idea. Thus all of the laws were given so that they would have a clearer understanding of the order of how things are, and the fact that they were articulated so clearly gave understanding to the fact that although man knows at some level that there are certain things man knows are wrong (gentiles…. show the work of the law is written on there hearts, even though they do not have the law”-Romans 2:15), he still given to his own devices will trespass these laws. That being said what do you do with the hundreds of rituals that exist and are commanded but are not celebrated in the new covenant. Why???

It would give the appearance that we have simply done the proverbial “thrown the baby out with the bath water”. But this is not the case. In the 24th chapter of the Gospel of Luke Jesus teaches his disciples that all of the Old Testament was given to point to him.

Now we take this along with Jesus’ teaching that “I did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.” So Jesus does not abandon the law but fulfills it and furthermore he explains it. To ask the question well then “Should we celebrate the traditions of the Old Testament?”

Well…maybe but understand that the 613 laws given in the old testament were given with a purpose. Primarily to point the fact that man is incapable of keeping the law and was in need of a savior. The New Testament states that Jesus has “offered for all time one sacrifice for sins”-Hebrews 10:!2. So all people are justified before God through faith, but by the grace extended in God’s mercy through Jesus Christ. Old Testament Jew of New Testament Gentile. All saved are saved through faith and saved by Jesus. Ok so the Old Testament Law, throw it all out if it was accomplished in Jesus right???

Well…no. The purpose of the law was to help man find life, and point to Jesus. That does not negate the truth that they contain. Many of them no longer apply since they have been fulfilled in Jesus but many of them were true then and still prove true today. It is comparable to me graduating from high school. While I was still in high school I was given certain rules that applied to my conduct as a student. That by following these rule I would be led to a life free from “detention, failed tests, etc… I was told not to hit other people because I would get in trouble and cause disruption, as well as told to make a point to close my locker because leaving it open was untidy, irresponsible, and left me subject to having my things stolen.

So when I graduated from high school I also graduated from all of the rules that of high school right? Well kind of… but not entirely. You see many of them apply not only then but now. It is still a bad idea to hit people, or run around with scissors, even if I have graduated from High school. But I no longer have a locker and am not bound to buy one and make sure I keep it closed in my apartment, but rather am to look at the principle of why I was told to “keep it closed” while in High school. I have graduated from the rules of High school, but some of them remain true today, while others are to be understood in light of the principle they were meant to convey while I was under the “law of high school”.

This is the story we see in the Old Testament, although we have graduated and “moved to a new covenant”, this does not abolish the old rules. But allows us to look at those that clearly still apply. For example we are not bound to keep Yom Kippur (The day our sins are atoned for where a sacrifice was made for God’s people), but to look at why we were told to keep this command. In this example the day of atonement is fulfilled in Jesus who has made everyday a “day of atonement”, he provide a sacrifice for all days where God’s peoples sins are forgiven.. But just as it is still a bad idea for me to run with scissors and hit people now and in high school, so there are still laws in the Old Testament that apply today. Look at the Ten Commandments, all of them are still applicable, and to be observed not out of a bond of slavery, but because they lead us to life. (Not murdering, Not committing adultery, worshipping $$, lying, stealing…etc, no one debates these things as less than “ideal”. But we also see other laws that no longer are to be observed but understood. I.e. the sacrificial system is not to be practiced but understood in light of the principle it was meant to convey. Jesus was the sacrifice.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Moon and the Stars declare who you are...

ManKind was made as an "image bearer" of God. Those who have been reconciled to Christ are called to do this in a number of ways. One of the ways this is done is to testify proclaim the "Truth" of God to a deceived world. We are to reflect and declares God's image, (God is Truth..."I am the way, the Truth, and the Life") by proclaiming his Truth (God) to the world around us. (Just as a Prince would declare the image and representation of the King for whom he travels and does battle).

The best depiction of this has been painted onto the canvas of creation in the Sun and moon. The Sun is infinitely greater than the moon, the Sun creates light and brings life, while the moon neither creates nor brings about anything apart from the sun. The moon simply testifies to the existence of something infinitely greater, that which is its source. Simply put the Moon is meant to "bear the image" or "Reflect the image" of the sun and Testify even when it appears as though the sun if no longer visible (ie. At Night). If the moon could fail to do this(I realize it does not have much of a choice), it would not mean that the sun does not exist. For example in a lunar eclipse the moon does not reflect the radiance of the Sun, but the Sun is still every bit as illuminating and brilliant.

We were created to bear his image and reflect his light, just as the moon reflects the light of the Sun. We are in darkness without the Light of God. So it is with the moon, who is unable to illumine anything apart from the Sun's light shining on it.

Today we have the choice to either be "image bearers" of God and shine HIS light, to be the "light of the world" or to not. Our participation his little to do with whether he will continue to shine, it will only affect whether or not we "enlighten" the world and testify that something greater gives us our source of Light. Or we will simply continue to tolerate the darkness, and fail "to proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light".

Will we declare today? Will you be an "image bearer" and reflect his marvelous light or be content with dwelling in the darkness?

-Give us your Grace oh God, we need you...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Eternity

"Can you fathom the weight of a soul in light of Eternity?"- Charles Spurgeon

The interesting thing about humanity is that each distinct person bears the eternal weight of glory within the fabric of its makeup. Every man, woman, and child you interact with is made in the image of God. And a crucial component of being an image bearer is that we are composed with a soul.
Although most people will recognize that to some extent their is an ever longing echo inside of them that depicts there is something more than mere existentialism or simple existence. Thus if enough time, thought, and contemplation takes place, with the grace and mercy of God allowing them to see, all eventually find that the life they longingly fill their energy, money, and time pursuing is simply hollow dream that is a fleeting myth. A vacant and empty passage from one moment to the next. Where hope for more is all that sustains them.
They may for a season numb themselves to this truth, but somewhere, if given enough time they will see that "what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world, but forfeit his soul."

But their is more. There is life that is wonderfully contained in that grace of a God who is both good and great, wonderful and mighty, beautiful and terrifying. The King of Kings who nobly laid down his life for the life of the subjects of his kingdom. A God who longs breathe truth into the lies that fill the world around us. He is both great and good, just and the justifier. He is reconciling all things to himself in Christ Jesus and he will be victorious. He who provided peace through the cross will provide Justice unsparingly. Rendering either Glory, honor, and peace...or wrath and fury.

But for now, we who know the truth, are called to open our mouths. Bearing in mind that "faith comes through hearing", and that those who are justified by the blood of the name that is above all names are "a chosen race", called that me may "proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light."

We are not mere mortals, food, movies, television, cars, homes, status, trinkets... these are mere mortals. All of humanity created in the likeness of the invisible God are not mortals, we are immortals. And so is everyone we come into contact with. Friends, neighbors, teachers, classmates, teammates, rich, poor, white, black, asian, all are image bearers. All will stand before the throne and give an account. Man is immortal, our eternal destinies may differentiate. But there is nothing mortal about us. (Save our outward flesh that is wasting away, but make no mistake our soul will live on).


Monday, October 5, 2009

Truth

"He (the devil) was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies."-John 8:44

"The very essence of your words is truth;
all your just regulations will stand forever."-Psalm 119:160

"Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth." John 17:17

For a majority of my life I fell for a lie. I chased fleeting pleasure after fleeting pleasure and was left in ruin and misery. I have no idea why his grace called me out of darkness and into his marvelous light, but it did. My sin was the same as the worlds. I had "exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator." This lie is a very subtle one, it creeps into the hearts of followers by taking what are seemingly good desires and bringing them to despotic and destructive enslavement. Taking good things and making them "god" things...this exchange leaves us empty longing for more to satisfy longings or simply numb our existence. The mysteriously interesting thing of the gospel is that it is the essence and reality of all truth. Thus the lie that life will and can be found apart from it is just that; a lie. This deception will suffocate those who venture down its path, and what appeared to be pleasure filled, easy, fun, and enticing, turns out to be in truth a place of death, despair, depression, and enslaving.

But God is good, and he desires that all men and women would come to a saving knowledge of him. Of his goodness, his love, and his mercy. The thoughts of which cripple the inside of me, when I think on the benevolent mercy of the God who rescued me from myself. It is interesting that in losing yourself to something so magnificent you become the most "you" that you could possibly ever be. In other words in losing your life you find it, and in trying to preserve your "life" you lose it. The Human capacity for emotion is incredible. As image bearers of God we have within the fabric of our souls the incredible ability to "feel", and "feel" immensely. However, often the feelings we entertain are not explored for the truth behind them or the lie that is really beneath them. These emotional false prophets that come from the father of lies must be rebuked, destroyed, brought into the light and called for what they are; Lies.

God is good, he is grace, he is love, he is power, he is strength, he is immeasurably wonderful, irresistibly beautiful, overwhelming pleasure filled. He is truth. He is indescribable. He is the only hope we have, I don't have the words to give him the praise he is due, nor the power to release those captive to the lies that this world claims of him. Taste and see... the author of life longs to give it to you.

Call for truth, dig deeply into the realm of philosophical rhetoric, science, psychology, discover that there is more. Close your eyes and breath deeply feel the world around you. There is a truth that melts away all falsity. Love that breaks through all tragedy. Grace that wipes away all duplicitous self-indulgency. Mercy for all your iniquity...

Come to him, all you who search and thirst for more, you who are tired, and lonely, broken and have fallen into deceit. Find mercy from a God who is able to sympathize with you in your weakness and give you strength to find life.

C.S. Lewis speaks of the unseen longing that rings in the chaotic desperation of our souls:

"We...desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited."

-Let your mourning turn to dancing, and be consumed today with hope of what is to come.



Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Words of the Teacher of Israel...

A Time for Everything
~For everything there is a season,
A time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.~

What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

-Ecclesiastes 3:1-13


Thursday, September 24, 2009

"gravity...has taken better man than me..."

"You can be so interested in great theological and intellectual and philosophical problems that you tend to forget that you are going to die." -Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones



-keep me where the light is-

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Declarations...

Inspired by the resolutions created by the young Jonathan Edwards... my own "declarations" may God be gracious to let me pursue them...

Declarations:

Declaration #1: I declare to aim with the best of my ability to perform at all times in a manner that: could and should others see my actions, they would give praise to my father who is in Heaven. Matt 5:16

Declaration #2: I declare to honor the temple of my body and withhold the utmost moderation, sobriety, temperance, and control. Recognizing the self-control is a fruit of the regenerated spirit (Gal 5:23) and that though all things are lawful to the one who is free in Christ, not all things are beneficial and I am not to be enslaved to any matter other than the Lord, his holiness, and goodness. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

Declaration #3: I declare to maintain a habit of and hunger for the study of the word of God so long as the habit of study provides the blessing of savoring him more and proclaiming his majesty to all the peoples of the earth.

Declaration #4: I declare to always maintain the practice of hiding his word in my heart (Deut 6:6, Colossians 3:16), and in this practice find the power to have victory over sin; “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you”-Ps. 119:11, as well as confidence in my witness the world around me.

Declaration#5: I declare to aim and toil to fulfill these declarations to the best of my ability, to look upon them often, and repent often of the ways that I have failed to honor them and dually my Lord and Savior who sits at the right hand of the throne of God.

Declaration #6: I declare to treat all men and women, from every tribe and tongue as though they themselves were Jesus, who is the Christ. Knowing that God loves them… loves all men and so honoring both the imago Dei, as well as Christ’s decree that “whatever you did for the least of these you did unto me” Matt 25:45

Declaration #7: To clothe myself in humility in all things, recognizing the reformers words that all of us “are beggars this is true”.

Declaration#8: To meditate often upon the doctrine of depravity, seeing not only that of Calvin’s followers who maintained the doctrine of Total Depravity. But also a doctrine of “Personal depravity”, knowing that all have fallen and are saved by grace, but I am deeply and totally fallen, wicked at my core, and it is only the grace of God working in me that produces supernaturally things not of the flesh but of the Spirit who is holy. And may the depravity and confessions of others stir my heart not towards disdain but compassion on them as I empathize with their condition and confession towards the Lord as I am confronted all the more with my own wickedness.

Declaration#9: I declare to think often upon my death asking the Lord to remind me that I am but a breath,(Psalm 39) and “it is better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting for this is the end of all mankind” (Ecclesiastes 6:2).

Declaration#10: I declare to fight for immense and intense happiness regardless of the situation and to transform even to darkest of circumstance into one of a more exciting experience.

Declaration#11: I declare to pursue with all my strength new forms of pleasure, excitement, exhilaration, and life for as long as air fills my lungs.

Declaration #12: I declare to receive instruction and wise counsel from young and old, knowing wisdom has many cupbearers and to apply any wise counsel to my life that in so doing would further manifest Christ’s power and Holiness here and to the world.

Declaration#13: I declare to Pursue fun, boundless amounts of fun and joy in every facet of my existence knowing that to live is to serve the author of Life, and to die is to gain his presence all the more.

Declaration#14: I declare to Love my family with all that I have, knowing that if one does not provide for the needs of his family he is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Tim 5:8).And should God see fit to bless me with a wife and/or Children to love them with all my might. Fighting for their joy, happiness, and pleasure as long as I shall live and to make provision for them as best I can even when I no longer live.

Declaration#15: I declare to until that time fight to regard all older men as fathers, older women as mothers, and all other men and women as sisters and brothers. Loving and respecting the elders, and protecting and providing for my brothers and sisters.

Declaration #16: I declare to lay down my life for the sake of Jesus Christ, dying daily for the greatest cause of all, and should the Lord see me worthy to give my earthly life know that there is “no greater love that of him who lays down his life”, and to count myself as blessed for being considered worthy to share in momentary sufferings for the sake of Christ.

Declarations#17: I declare to never see myself as above another, but make myself a slave to all men.

Declaration#18: I declare to become whatever I must (within my conscience) “that I might win some” 1 Cor. 9. Forsaking the disdain of the religious even if my actions should cause indignant feelings among the hyper-religious, and fight with all my heart for the lost and dying world.

Declaration#19: I declare to season my life and interactions in the most gracious way imaginable, erring on the side of grace with those who are young in faith, or ignorant of it. And take no measure of Judgment on others that I would not be delighted to turn and take on myself. (Matt. 7)

Declaration#20: I declare to warm every person I meet with love and to attempt to reflect the very face of Christ to every man or women, no matter their demographic or stage of life.

Declaration#21: I declare to pursue friendships, new and old. To deeply invest in those of the closest ring, but to seek every moment and interaction with strangers and new faces as an opportunity to make a new friend. And that by that new friendship our walks would be strengthened and encouraged or that the new relationship would initiate opportunity for some unfamiliar with the good news of Christ to become familiar with it.

Declaration#22: I declare to Fast, Pray, Rest, pursue silence and solitude, as well as the rest of the disciplines often and feverishly.

Declaration#23: I declare to give generously, to give of my time, my soul, myself, and my belongings knowing that it is far better to “be rich in good deeds”; and to remember that I brought nothing into this world and can take nothing out of it. (1 Tim 6)

Declaration#24: To be the best friend that I can, and to never avoid conflict, if its resolution would draw one of those involved (including myself ) to look more like Jesus. Many of us desire to look like him and I have far to many blind spots to do this alone.

Declaration#25: To be faithful, to make all my ambitions, dreams, and desires be rooted in this. Better to be poor, unknown, dying, having nothing, foolish, and faithful, than to be handsome, wealthy, famous, successful in gain, status ,or possession, and to be “a wave tossed about by the sea…”

Thursday, September 10, 2009

2 Roads:
Born once, die twice.

Born twice, die once.

-Unless a man is born again he cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven...John3

scripture is clear all are dying and wasting away, its just a matter of whether you are:

living and dying...

or dying and truly living...

Which are you?


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Death to the Atheists...

Smyrna... (Reveation 2, speaks of the Church in Smyrna)

We know of the events in Smyrna (smyrna was a city in the roman empire located in Asia Minor) through a writer who claims to have witnessed them. It all began when a group of Christians were brought before the authorities (around 150 AD) and all of them refused to worship the roman "gods". Under the cruelest tortures they remained firm, they claimed that 'resting in Christ they scorned the pains of the world." When Germanicus, an elderly christian, was brought to trial, he was told that he should take into account his old age and recant, rather than submit to torture and death. To this he repsonded that he had no desire to keep living in a world where the injustices he had just seen could take place. And to show how deeply he meant his words, he called the beasts (wild animals hungry for his blood...lions, dogs, hyenas) to come to him and kill him. This act of courage enraged the angry mob, who began to shout: "death to the atheists!" (that is, those who had no visible gods) and "Bring Polycarp!" (The leader of the church in Smyrna).
When Polycarp learned that he was being sought he followed the advice of his flock (he was the pastor of smyrna) and hid for several days. But after having changed to another hiding place, and still having been discovered, he decided that his arrest was the will of God and refused to hide any longer and calmly awaited those who came after him.
The proconsul who presided at his trial attempted to persuade him, urgin him to think about his advancing age and consent to worship the emperor. When Polycarp refused, the judge cried out "out with the atheists!" To this Polycarp responded by pointing at the angry mob exclaiming "Yes out with the atheists!" Again the judge insisted, promising that if he would swear by the emperor and curse Christ he would be free to go. But Polycarp replied "For eighty-six years I have served him, and he has done me no evil. How could I curse my king, who saved me?"
The judge then threatened to have him burnt alive, Polycarp simply answered that the fire that the judge could light would last only a minute, whereas the eternal fire would never go out. He was taken outside and tied to a post. Here he looked up and prayed aloud "Lord, Sovereign, I thank you that you have deemed me worthy of this moment, so that, jointly with your martyrs, I may have a share in the cup of Christ. For this I bless and glorify you. Amen". He was burnt alive...

The stories of the sufferings of the saints of old only make one wonder if it is not they who should be pitied, but those of us who in our world of comforts, ease, and pleasures have tasted so little of the majesty of Christ. That in our lives saturated with little suffering we may not be in danger for our lives but for our souls. Polycarp, John Huss, the Apostles, and so many more lived lives that reflected so clearly that they were in love with God. He was enough, and all other pleasures paled in comparison to him. Could it be that the removal of all suffering and the infiltration of much evangelicalism into our culture has begun to produce generations that know about Jesus but have never experienced him. That know the story but have never been apart of it. Simply content to live our lives of ease, be culturally relevant and pursue our own desires often behind a veneer of Christian principles that simply cover the fact that in the end most of us care more about our stuff, our dreams, our future than we do about God. God help us... deepen our love for you, in ways that we are insufficient to accomplish.



Jesus help us to let our lights shine so brightly and so distinctly in a culture that seems to have so much knowledge of you but little love and sacrifice that seems to declare, we are yours...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Indescribable

The design of the universe...is very magnificent and shouldn't be taken for granted. In fact, I believe that is why Einstein had so little use for organized religion, although he strikes me as a basically very religious man. He must have looked at what the preachers said about God and felt that they were blaspheming. He had seen much more majesty that they had ever imagined, and they were just not talking about the real thing. My guess is that he simply felt that religions he run across did not have proper respect...for the AUTHOR of the universe"- Charles Misner (scientific specialist in general relativity theory).

Scientist know that light travels at the speed of 5.87 trillion miles a year. They also know that the galaxy our solar system is a part of is 100,000 light years or 587,000 trillion miles in diameter. It is one of about a million galaxies in the optical range of our most powerful telescopes. It has been estimated that in our galaxy alone there are more than 200 billion stars. The sun is just one of them and a modest one at best. The sun travels at 135 miles per second!! And even at this speed (a vehicle moving this speed would circle the globe in just over one minute), it takes the sun 250 million years to complete one revolution around our galaxy. The infinite magnitude of this sovereign power is devastating to attempt to contemplate. In the mundane of our everyday life we are quick to not even grasp the grandeur of the massive creation that exists around us. And even more so, forgetting the God of existence, who eclipses all of these. That “ Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.”- Isaiah 40:17.

Every time the bible mentions man encountering God it is always quick to record the incredible reverence that is paid to his presence. Even consider the priest who had a rope tied around his foot so that in case he should be killed in God’s presence he could be dragged out. The name of the Lord brought such reverence that it was often not even spoken in Israel for the powerful presence it evoked.

This reverence seems to be a thing of the past. Mankind seems to operate in a fashion that belittles Gods power or even denies his existence. Attempt to contemplate the greatness of God, the author of all good, and how for an endless succession of moments those who believe will be ever increasingly exposed to the goodness, and greatness of the God of all things, the creator of the universe. His qualities are infinitely beyond our finite cognition and thus ever attempt to ponder the things of our God pales in comparison to his infinite goodness. It will not be a feat to fall in worship and live in reverence for all eternity. It the same way we drink deeply the beauty of a sunset over the mountains, or the magnificence of the differing topographies and geographies in our world, or the wonder of a lightning storm. All captivate our attention and yet, none is even worth comparing to the greatness unknown of the Lord our God.

In a recent debate in TIME Magazine, two scientists went head to head. Richard Dawkins the author of the “God Delusion” and leading spokesman for the scientific atheist community. A strong advocate of evolutionary processes taking place without the presence of a God, paired off against Francis Collins the Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute since 1993, he headed a multinational 2,400-scientist team that co-mapped the 3 billion biochemical letters of our genetic blueprint. He is a forthright Christian a convert from Atheism at age 27. Both are well-respected and influential figures in the scientific community. The two squared off back and forth, both providing reasonable and succinct answers for their personal opinions and conclusions on the existence of God. But the most awe-inspiring statement and terrifying one at that did not come from the mouth of Collin’s the outspoken Christian. But from Dawkins. He concluded that although he is a self-proclaimed atheist. He is certain of one thing we all have an idea of him that is too small, and he is far more wonderful than we could conceive.

Dawkins: If there is a God, it's going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed.

(Here is the link should you be inclined to read it yourself. http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1555132,00.html)

It wasn’t the words of the Christian but the recognition of Dawkins that seems so incredible. (Collins did a wonderful job)… Simply his own belief, that If there is a God, it's going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that anything we can even imagine…

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” Romans 1:20

INDESCRIBABLE...

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