Monthly Archives: February 2009

And Now

And now for something completely different…a man with three buttocks! (please comment if you know what that is from…Lori I am counting on you…maybe with Mike’s help)

I have officially embarked on getting my A+ certification. After some pushing from various friends I am just going to do it. Yes, that is completely different. I plan on continuing with this blog and…well…vomiting here regularly but my journey to the center of the IT earth begins now. So, tell me what your suggestions are. Do you have IT experience? Do you know exactly what I should do and how to do it…and you LOVE to let people know what they should and shouldn’t do? Let me know.

I am very interested to see what happens as a result of this certification. I am looking to get my MCP in Vista (Microsoft Certified Professional for all you non IT people…I just found that out yesterday ha!) So, hopefully I will be able to make L’s computer actually work…fun times.

So what do you think? Questions? Comments? Social injustices? Leave me one.

-Cheers

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Look!…There’s Nothing

It is interesting how things transpire most of the time. We try our best to do what God wants. This is done either with a grateful heart or with a needy desire. We either want to earn His favor or we just want to be counted as faithful. I was thinking about the difference between the two and I was caughtby the similarities. How often do we start with the right motive but land in the same place as with wrong motives. Soren Kierkegaard says that becoming nothing in this world is the condition of becoming something in the other world. Without beating this quote too much, I think it is clear to see the truth here. The last shall be first…kinda…I guess. That isn’t what got me thinking though…here goes.

Luke 10:20 – Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

His boys just got back from their life changing, mountain top, short-term missions trip and were amazed at all that had been accomplished. Then Jesus then throws a ‘nevertheless’ at them. Punch in the gut. God has blessed some of the things that I have offered as sacrifice to Him. Some with the right motive…some without. It was always His work and it as always His blessing. I am not suggesting a fatalistic approach to ministry where we do whatever we want and let God figure it out, however, I am suggesting that God can do more with our bad attitude then we think.

Either way, we have a tendency to get excited about things happening. People start following Jesus, people give up long held addictions through grace, marriages are restored…we tend to get excited about these things; and rightfully so, when God works it is great. The problem comes when we think that is the end. When we see someone who turns from their sin and turns to Jesus we get excited knowing what has happened. We get excited that we were ‘there’ when it happened. What Jesus is saying here is almost selfish on first sighting. He says that we always need to remember that having OUR names written in heaven is IT.

He is not discrediting the effort, the heart or even the end result; He is saying that we need to be thankful that our face mask is on. (Remember that my Hollis people?) No matter which John you follow (W or C) if you have a saving faith in Jesus you have a face mask on. Think to a plane…what do they say? If the plane should lose cabin pressure, put YOUR mask on before helping others. Bottom line…you are useless if you pass out! Jesus says to be thankful that grace has been extended to you and that you have your mask on.

Whether you lead a youth ministry, lead gathered worship, or lead your family or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Do this by understanding your mask as the greatest gift you have and the greatest blessing you will see.

Becoming nothing in this world is the condition of becoming something in the other world – S.K.

-Cheers

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Toilet Water

The world has a lot to say about sin. Sure they might not call it sin, but they have a lot to say about it. The self-help section of bookstores is usually one of the largest, and many worldviews are brought together in this area of life. We hear different ways to kick bad habits from patches that adhere to your skin and medically remove or dull that which is pulling at you from within. There are many agents of change that play on your ability to use this fictional force called will power. Today I heard a few more ideas that were quite pragmatic in their approach such as, putting a rubber band on your wrist and snapping it when you had a bad thought or wanted a cigarette. Another way that we try and use a pragmatic approach is when we try and replace ‘bad’ behavior with ‘good’ behavior. Another I heard today was the ammonia plan. When you are about to sin (engage in a bad habit) you should sniff ammonia. Seriously? The first thing I thought of when I heard that was Pavlov’s dog. So here I am sniffing ammonia every time I get tempted to think a lustful thought. Am I eventually going to start getting turned on when my wife washes the floor? Not sure that is the best option.

Mark Driscoll speaks of this wisdom regularly in a very clarifying way. This wisdom of the world is water. Toilet water. Yeah you’re thirsty…yeah the toilet has water in it…but I don’t think that is what Jesus had in mind though when He spoke of living water. When we use the wisdom of this world we are drinking from the toilet. It is water that we have contaminated with our sin. Some sinner thought about something long enough and came up with an answer. SMELL AMMONIA! Wouldn’t you rather have the true living water?

The Bible (aka the living water) speaks of the truth of our “bad habits” in Matthew 15:18-20:

But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean. For out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what makes a man unclean; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him unclean.

Right before these verses in the beginning of chapter 15 we have the Pharisees coming to Jesus and complaining that Jesus’ disciples aren’t acting right. “Don’t they know how to act in church”, they say! “Don’t they know that you aren’t supposed to wear a hat when you pray?” (wait, that’s not the same thing…ummm…yeah it is) Jesus rolls his eyes and says, “Seriously? This is the best you can come up with? What about this corban thing?” He then goes on to explain their lack of washing by explaining where filth comes from…within. In a recent sermon Barry Murry said that we are already primed for our actions. When we sin, that is a release of what is already in us…we didn’t get tricked or duped. We were already primed and ready. This is what Matthew 15 says. It is that which comes out of the heart that makes us unclean.

So back to the original idea. What can we do about our sin? Fix the heart. How can we fix the heart? See my last post. Psalm 37 says: Delight yourself in the Lord…and he will bring forth your righteousness. When we delight in the Lord and He grants us repentance…that will change the heart and what comes out will not be unclean. Pull your rubber bands, smell your ammonia, and find your happy place. Just be ready to drink from the Kohler cup.

-Cheers

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My good buddy Soren

So I am trying to chew on this one…a quote from Kierkegaard. Here goes.

When a lark wants to pass gas like an elephant, it has to blow up. In the same way, all scholarly theology must blow up, because it has wanted to be the supreme wisdom instead of remaining what it is, an unassuming triviality.

Seriously this makes me giggle every time I read it. I know, I’m a guy but c’mon…

At first I was thinking about the action of blowing up an in a direction…up. Now I am starting to think that he intended to mean blow up as in explode. (If someone knows this please let me know) I know that my good buddy Soren wasn’t a huge fan of studying doctrine and theology and when one considers the time in which he lived, I can see that many people were thinking the same things. They just weren’t as flowery as he was. It is interesting to see that out of this quote we could get a view of this man that is not as accurate as would seem. Is he trying to say that people who study theology should just blow up? Well, yes. The point I am seeing however, is that when we make that which is for honoring God into something of an idol of God, we see a false god. We do not see the real thing when we look at theology instead of God. Theology comes OUT OF our gaze on God, it doesn’t lead us to God. His Word does this. Psalm 37:4-6 says:

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

The line that has struck me today is vs 6 that says He will bring forth your righteousness. When we I delight in Him, not books about Him or even sermons about Him, but delight in Him…HE will bring forth your MY righteousness. Theology comes out of His giving of righteousness. His giving of righteousness comes out of our delight. Our delighting of Him…grace. We can not delight in Him outside of grace. So…God’s grace leads to theology. When we lift that which is ultimately a gift of grace up as our god…we have idolatry. This continues to be my sin…not my only one mind you…but a sin. I love reading books. I have suggestions for you no matter what the topic. I love to learn stuff and know that there are times when God is glorified by that stuff. When I preach, teach, share with someone…even *gasp* take it to my own heart. Ah but alas this does not happen as much as should. I am more like those in 2 Timothy 3:7 that were always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. I have a hard time doing something about what I read.

This year has been a big change for me so far. Through the constant encouragement of good friends to let the Scriptures read me and the DA Carson book I rave about,, I am slowly coming to an understanding of how to allow the gospel to change my life through His Word. I encourage you to be more purposeful in your reading of Scripture. Don’t read just to read. I’ll let you in on a little something…I have read the Bible in a year…I’d still go to hell if it wasn’t for the gospel. Course that may be cause I read the Message one of those times but who’s counting?

-Cheers

Holy Father…cause me to desire and delight in You. Bring forth righteousness in  my life and give me the desires of my heart.

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Satisfaction

What did the cross do? For years the cross was the symbol of Good Friday and basically that was it for me. I knew what happened on the cross but I did not really learn until recently what was accomplished on the cross. That which was accomplished means something to me specifically not generally. It is not some ethereal symbol of what God wants. It is an actual accomplishment of Jesus for us. The final sacrificial lamb and the final scapegoat. The work of the cross is complete and it has done more for me than can be expressed.

My ability to lead my family is completely wrapped up in the cross. I do not have the ability on my own. The ability to support my family is completely wrapped up in the cross. I do not have the ability on my own. How do I let the Gospel fuel my life? How do I let the Gospel renew my mind?…Grace. God’s grace is what gives me the ability to do as Paul speaks in Romans 12:2 …be transformed by the renewal of your mind… That renewal is the gospel working in my life. That renewal is God’s grace changing my mind through the cross. Jesus died as a substitution for us and the debt was completely satisfied. Any understanding of the cross apart from grace is cruel and inapplicable to our lives.

I am constantly being brought back to the nature of my salvation and the power that I have through the cross to be what I have been called to be. Grace is what fills the gap between my calling and my ability. I have been called to be a Christian, a husband, a father, and a child. I can ONLY do all things through HIM that strengthens me. If the cross did not satisfactorily complete the substitution…I have nothing.

We strongly reject, therefore, every explanation of the death of Christ which does not have at its centre the principle of ‘satisfaction through substitution’, indeed divine self-satisfaction through divine self-substitution. The cross was not a commercial bargain with the devil, let alone one which tricked and trapped him; nor an exact equivalent, a quid pro quo to satisfy a code of honour or technical point of law; nor a compulsory submission by God to some moral authority above him from which he could not otherwise escape; nor a punishment of a meek Christ by a harsh and punitive Father; nor a procurement of salvation by a loving Christ from a mean and reluctant Father; not an action of the Father which bypassed Christ as mediator. Instead, the righteous, loving Father humbled himself to become in and through his only Son flesh, sin and a curse for us, in order to redeem us without compromising his own character. The theological words ‘satisfaction’ and ‘substitution’ need to be carefully defined and safeguarded, but they cannot in any circumstances be given up. The Biblical gospel of atonement is of God satisfying himself by substituting himself for us. 

John Stott – The Cross of Christ

This will indeed be a long post and hope to follow up this thought with others in the same vein. My mind is getting blown up every day as the Gospel digs further and further into my soul.

What do you think? Too heavy? Just right? I’m thinking I need to either lighten it up or shorten it up but I had a lot going on in my head tonight.

-Cheers

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Break

FYI – I’m taking a break. I’ll be back soon.

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Simplicity

I noticed that I have not had much to say in a while. I’ve been thinking of simplicity and where it fits into my life. This mornings readings took me to Mark 6 where Jesus utters one of the most oft quoted lines by pastors. Verse 4 reads – And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” It was the next verse that spoke to me though. Verse 5 reads like this – And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. Simplicity. The mighty work is not the healing…it is salvation. The Gospel. Simplicity. This leads me to an idea that Soren Kierkegaard introduced me to a few years ago but have not been able to make my own until recently.

Kill the commentators. Today’s mass of Bible interpreters have damaged, more than they have helped, our understanding of the Bible…If you wish to understand the Bible, then be sure to read it without a commentary…

The main point as I see it today is that modern evangelicalism has started to create a new holy Roman church by injecting so much commentary into our sermons that instead of hearing the Gospel, we hear the commentary. The church has become passive aggressive; not by coming out and saying that we should leave the Bible reading up to the professionals, but by implying it with our preaching. Bible reading has thus been reduced to a daily act of obedience to God with some benefits on the side as we realize more truths on how to live a successful life. It’s Zig  Ziglar with a Bible flavor. If I do this thing that the Bible teaches, I will be a successful Christian. I”m not even referring to the prosperity guys, I’m referring to the religious guys. He goes on to say…

Of course, the commentators are not the only ones at fault. God wants to force each one of us out again into the essential, back to a childlike beginning. But being naked before God in this way, we do not want at all. We all prefer the commentaries. So with each passing generation we grow more and more spiritless…The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?

Simplicity. Why are we able to understand anything that we read? Grace. God grants us the ability to understand Scripture by His grace. When we read Scripture and it ends up reading us more than we read It…that is grace. When the truth of the Gospel hits us when Scripture is preached…that is grace. Without grace, Scripture is a death sentence. With grace, Scripture is a flashlight revealing our true state . (Not sure how theologically correct that is but that is what came out. Clearly I am typing faster than I can edit.)

So, read your Bible. Read it as one who is covered by grace and who longs to understand God’s written revelation to us. Pray before you read. Every time. Put the commentaries down and leave your study Bible on the shelf unless you are writing a paper. Read the Bible and enjoy it.

-Cheers

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