Monday, April 26, 2010
Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
I thank Thee that many of my prayers have been refused. I have asked amiss and do not have, I have prayed from lusts and been rejected, I have longed for Egypt and been given a wilderness. Go on with Thy patient work, answering 'no' to my wrongful prayers, and fitting me to accept it. Purge me from every false desire, every base aspiration, everything contrary to Thy rule. I thank Thee for Thy wisdom and Thy love, for all the acts of discipline to which I am subject, for sometimes putting me into the furnace to refine my gold and remove my dross.
No trial is so hard to bear as a sense of sin. If Thou shouldst give me choice to live in pleasure and keep my sins, or to have them burnt away with trial, give me sanctified affliction. Deliver me from every evil habit, every accretion of former sins, everything that dims the brightness of Thy grace in me, everything that prevents me taking delight in Thee. Then I shall bless Thee, God of jeshurun, for helping me to be upright.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
I guess I'm posting this to share with you but more importantly, I am also seeking wisdom from my more mature brothers in Christ. I would love to hear your critiques. So please - critique - change - challenge me.
Question #1: O.T. is not really a "Christian" writing?
Answer #1: The O.T. is definitely a Christian writing. No questions asked.
2 Timothy 3:16 & 17 – "All (Old Testament / New Testament) Scripture is inspired by God (God breathed) and profitable for teaching (when we lack knowledge), for reproof (when we sin), for correction (when we err), for training in righteousness (when, spiritually, we are out of shape); so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."
*words in parenthesis are my own*
2 Peter 1:20 & 21 – "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."
Question #2: The O.T. is more an account of history than anything?
Answer #2: The O.T. is an account of history. Big deal. I wouldn’t call it ‘more of account…than anything’. Where would we be without the creation story in Genesis, the Law in Exodus, the Psalms and Proverbs, the many prophetic books like Daniel? They have their place and to write them off as merely an account of history, therefore unneeded or inapplicable and irrelevant to us today would be a sad, sad way to look at them. Once again: “All Scripture is inspired by God…”
Question #3: The O.T. is more a story of the people of the time?
Answer #3: Yes – to use correct hermeneutics, we have to look at the audience the writer is writing to. We see this both in the O.T. and N.T. We need to ask questions like - "Was it only intended for them at that time?" - "Can it be applied to us today?" Those questions are answered when you read the Bible and interpret it in its entirety – getting your hands dirty from really digging into Scripture and doing your best to try and figure out what the author was communicating to their audience and what they were going through at that time, where they were and where they were going…etc… and not just hunting and pecking here and there to find something cool / weird / different…etc…
Question #4: Does the O.T. relate to Christians after Jesus' life/death/resurrection?
Answer #4: Yes and No. This one is deeper than a blog post comment will let it be. I’ll try (deep breath)… When we read the O.T. we will find law, after law, after law (agree?) – ok. Also notice that no one could keep them. So they would sacrifice burnt offerings to God for forgiveness. Then, Jesus Christ came to earth (fully God and fully man), born of a virgin, lived a perfect and sinless life, and gave himself up by being crucified on a cross. When He did that, the Law was fulfilled.
Matthew 5:17 – “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”
Galatians 3:23-25 – “But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”
Romans 10:4 – “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
We also see different laws and practices like consuming unclean meat - taught in the O.T. - fulfilled in the N.T. This is just one example of why we need to read and interpret scripture as a whole and not individual verses and passages.
Question #5: The O.T. discusses more details of people's lives and the process of their faith?
Answer #5: See Question 4.
Question #6: What does the O.T. mean for present day follower's of Jesus?
Answer #6: See all of the above. Whether we like reading the Old Testament or not, it's still God breathed (inspired) Scripture. 2 Timothy describes what it's intended use is, 2 Peter reminds us Who wrote it. So if God wrote it, why wouldn’t I want to read it – right?
I will admit – I spend most of my time in the N.T. But lately I have been convicted to read and study more of the O.T. So I can understand the Bible better as a whole. I believe it’s also where you are at, spiritually speaking. The O.T. is deep - it takes work to interpret and understand correctly. Rightly dividing it is tough and takes time and effort. I’m not claiming that I take the right amount of time and always divide it rightly – In fact, I would argue that I need to be in the Word MORE and take MORE time to study, divide, and seek.
Anyways – I hope this wasn’t too boring to read :D and hope that it helped point you in the right direction. Looking at your other posts, I think you ask great questions – I could spend hours upon hours discussing these questions. For instance, your question about the Trinity – that’s easy – if you read the Bible. All 3 (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) are equal to each other yet One and are eternal – eternity past to eternity future and were not created but are self-existent. Can I challenge you? If I can, I would challenge you to find and know what the Bible says about these items for yourself. When I was younger, I relied heavily on others for my understandings of Biblical things. And after actually studying the Bible, I found that almost all of my understandings of similar issues were incorrect – I had to start over. By God’s grace, He showed me Truth through His Word.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Bible: Scriptures Author
The author of the Bible was God - written by men under divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Breathed out by God or God breathed. Romans 3:2 calls Scripture the "Oracles of God".
2 Peter 1:21 - "for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."
2 Timothy 3:16 - "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;"
(See also: Jeremiah 36:1-2; Ezekiel 1:3; Revelation 1:1, 1:10-11, 14:13).
Bible: Scriptures Trustworthiness
God proved Himself trustworthy in His dealings with the Israelites (1 Kings 8:56), so also He will prove Himself trustworthy in His dealings with us. What He has said, He will do.
Isaiah 55:11 - "So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it."
(See also: Ezekiel 12:25)
Bible: Scriptures Endurance
The Word has endured all things and will for eternity. The Word will endure forever (Literally - FOREVER). Because God Himself is eternal, that which He speaks never changes. Because the Bible is that which God has spoken, its truths are eternal.
Isaiah 40:8 - "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever."
(See also: Psalm 119:89; Matthew 24:35; 1 Peter 1:25).
Bible: Scriptures Intended Use
All Scripture is relevant. All answers to life's situations and guidance through life's seasons can be found in Scripture. ALL! All things that pertain to God - His attributes - His character - All are found in Scripture. God has revealed Himself through it.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 - "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."
Emphasis added: 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17 – "All (Old Testament AND New Testament) Scripture is inspired by God (God breathed) and profitable for teaching (when we lack knowledge), for reproof (when we sin), for correction (when we err), for training in righteousness (when, spiritually, we are out of shape); so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."
The Word of God is sharp and precise, equipped for surgery, cutting deep into the sinners soul.
Hebrews 4:12 - "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
Bible: Scriptures Importance in Your Life
How intentional are you in your studying of God's Word? How important is it to you?
1 Peter 2:2 - "like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation"
In this passage the words '"long for" come from the Greek verb epipatheo, which means strong desire, a craving, a longing, a compelling desire!
The same verb is used in the Psalm 42:1 - "As the deer pants after the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, oh God."
In the Book of James, we are called to be doers of the Word.
James 1:21-25 - "Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
How can we be 'doers' of anything, if we have not knowledge of what we must do? Seek His face this day. Ask God to ignite a fervent desire and thirst for His Word.
Saved by Grace
Thursday, January 21, 2010
This is by no means a scientific poll, but I just clicked on the song sample that Amazon offers so you can hear an album highlight. These are the random highlights from five songs from the top ten Christian downloads; see if you notice a theme.
- I don't know what makes me so afraid.
- You will be safe in His arms.
- You bring me through.
- How you gonna fix it with nowhere to turn?
- You're crying on the floor cuz you can't take no more.
If this is any sort of mood barometer, Christians are very scared these days. That really isn’t a shocker; the economy is shaky, unemployment is high and there are people willing to blow up their underpants to kill us. Christians are not immune to these concerns and the contemporary Christian music industry has tapped into this zeitgeist.
What is interesting (and troubling) is how Christian artists are attempting to sing us out of our anxieties. Certainly not all contemporary Christian music (CCM) is guilty of this, but I think it is fair to say that overall, CCM offers no more hope than Chopra (a new age guru from India) or Oprah (a new age guru from Chicago).
Imagine you are at the park when a child falls and gashes her knee. You and her father run to rescue her. Right before you reach her, you both stop short and hold out your arms so she can choose who she wants to help her. Dad does not say a word while you beg her, “Let me hold you. I want to hug you. I will help you.”
Who is she going to embrace? Instinctively she will run to the arms of her father because she KNOWS that he will take care of her. She KNOWS this because he has proven himself faithful to her for years. You can plead and beg all you want, but the child will only find comfort in the one who has proven his faithfulness and ability.
That is precisely where most contemporary Christian music and preaching fails. An artist can sweetly sing that God wants to hug you, and that may make you feel better while you listen, but these lyrics are placebos at best. In order to find true comfort and true healing, you need to KNOW that God is in capable of protecting you. You need knowledge of his abilities, power and past performance. In other words, you need theology.
It does not help to be told over and over, “Let God hold you, He wants to protect you, fall into His arms.” What comforts us is when we see God’s strength demonstrated over and over again in the Bible. We don’t need tunes that tell us to let God embrace us, we need theology set to music that proves that God is strong and is in control over every detail of our lives.
Here are three actual CCM lyrics that I discovered when I Googled, “God wants to hold you.”
"I was wondering can you hold me now
You are the only one that's patient when I fall."
"Father, I want You to hold me
I want to rest in Your arms today
Father, I want You to show me
How much You care for me in every way"
"All that I ever wanted was this peace as you
Hold me now, as you hold me now
All that I ever needed was this love as you
Hold me now, forever hold me now"
Contrast those gems with these theological statements from the Bible:
- God spoke the universe into existence in six 24 hour days.
- God parted a sea so His children would be safe.
- Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven.
You don’t even need to be told to not worry when you KNOW that God is the Creator, Controller and Conqueror. Knowledge of who God is and what He has done results in comfort.
While I am terribly tempted to plug Exalted Worship (available at www.wretchedradio.com), I am not going to. Instead, let me encourage you in these challenging times to not reach for sugar pill music, but to fill yourself with songs about God’s unchanging truths. Don’t listen to pep talk preaching, but gorge yourself on solid sermons filled with truth.
It is OK to need comfort, God is happy to provide it. God will feed you when you flee to His Word. It may not be as catchy as breathy Christian pop tunes, but it is sweeter than honey, more valuable than fine gold and it (and it alone) will comfort you.
Anticipation, patience, anxiety, joy, pleasure, love. These feelings pounding in my heart and racing through my mind this morning. The date was January 3rd, 2009. One of the fastest days my life has seen, yet the most memorable day I have ever experienced.
The brisk winter morning, the snow falling straight down. I said brisk but FREEZING may be a better way to describe it.
I remember it taking quite a bit longer than usual to get ready for the day. The three piece tuxedo and tie fit nicely in most places yet quite snug around my shoulders and in the neck. It seemed as though I put everything on backwards – buttons in the wrong holes – I even forgot to bring black socks! (Luckily the personal attendant had a spare pair in her magic purse) The building was filled with friends and family. It seemed at every corner was a familiar smile and great conversation.
If you haven’t figured it out already – I’m talking about the morning of the day I was married to the most wonderful woman I know. We were married that afternoon – a blizzardy day in January at a beautiful church in the great town of Fergus Falls, MN.
My bride and I have been married for a little over a year – 383 days! Praise the Lord for her patience and kindness she has shown me in all of my shortcomings and weaknesses. It’s fun to think back through the months and years I have known Lindsay. Here we are now, married to each other, sharing life together, and, pretty typical… getting caught up in life’s seasons and challenges.
So – what about my marriage? It’s good (That puts it nice and sweet, doesn’t it?). OK – it IS good and challenging and sometimes confusing. We have learned much together in our first year of marriage. We have also grown-up and matured much in our first year in marriage. We have experienced tests, trials, and pains as well as victories, laughter, and joy this past year and there are dozens (if not more) of things which I thought I understood, or had a pretty good handle on, before we got married that I have now realized that I had NO CLUE about. Some personal, some emotional – but most are spiritual in nature. Recently, I had one of those ‘slap you in the face’ moments about marriage and the Gospel.
I was listening to one of Paul W. Martin’s sermons on “A Gospel-Centered Marriage” – he exegeted his way through Ephesians 5 (pretty typical ‘marriage’ chapter), verses 22 through 33, concentrating mostly on husbands.
v. 25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,” (I’m not the wisest when it comes to that, but I have an understanding of it).
Then he got to v. 26 & 27 “so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” (This is where I was slapped in the face.)
After reading this Scripture he asked the question:
“Do you consider your wife’s spiritual growth and maturity your responsibility? What would be your wife's answer?”
I’ve heard it taught many different ways: “Walk beside her, spiritually, don’t leave her behind”, “You are the head of the household, you are in charge of spiritually leading your family” (all good)… but it grabbed me in a different way this time. In my marriage, my responsibility, my goal, my job description is to give myself up for my bride. To make her spiritually gorgeous – holy – blameless – without spot as Christ does for the church (notice the Gospel plug in these verses – Christ sanctifying us, cleansing us, washing us, by His blood, to present us without spot or wrinkle, holy and blameless).
Our response to un-holiness and spiritual blame in our wife’s life is to cleanse her by the washing of the water of the Word – in love (v. 26). But as a result of the fall, our attitude and response is bent toward sin – bent toward doing nothing, to ignore, to shrug our shoulders, to look the other way, to be 'tired because you've tried that already' or 'to give up because she doesn't seem to listen to you anymore' - when Christ does nothing of the sort.
The Gospel came, the Gospel brought change, but now is bearing fruit, and GROWING - this process in your life will continue until death or the return of Christ.
Adam sat by Eve and watched her eat the fruit from the tree of good and evil. WHY DIDN’T HE JUMP IN FRONT OF HER AND STOP IT?!
Martin pleaded that only the Gospel will give you the power to fuel that kind of active love toward your wife. Do you see how a correct understanding of the Gospel is essential to loving your wife the way we are called to love her – the way Christ loved the church? The Gospel must be the core of our being and our motivation to have a God honoring, Christ extolling marriage.
I’m still wrestling with how this needs play out in my marriage. My inadequacy is ever so present to me right now. Lord, help me apply this truth to my life. Lord, please give me wisdom and guidance as I discern truth from error in my marriage.
Praise God for His patience with me as He weaves His sovereign plan through my life.
Saved by Grace
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
So, which comes first—the bad theology or the greed? Use Scripture to support your position.
My answer is below – what’s your answer?
2 Peter 2:2 & 3 - (NASB) "Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep."
I think that if we read from left to right, we may find our answer (I don't claim to have the correct answer, I don't have a PHD or anything like that, but in my studying, I believe this could be an option for an answer to the question).
"Many will follow their sensuality (KJV - pernicious ways) and because of them (the 'many that follow'), the way of Truth will be maligned..." I think that this is one of those "because / then" situations. BECAUSE of their sensuality (perniciousness, covetousness, selfishness, greed), they THEN pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and twist, mangle, distort the God of the Bible. A condition of an un-regenerated heart - desiring and ultimately creating a God that is more appealing (Idolitry). I also believe this is how un-regenerated, false-teachers connect and lure (un-regenerated) people in. Through the lusts of the flesh - whether it's immorality or 'self-help / prosperity'... or whatever god they can create to meet the selfish needs and desires of the human flesh. (James 1:14 & 15)
Reading on: "and in their greed they will exploit you with false words..." - Pretty self-explanitory. Greed, THEN false words (yes??).
Also – Luke 6:45 - "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart." (emphasis added) - reading left to right.
Saved by Grace