Bought by the Blood

June 30, 2011

One Of My New Favorite Websites

Filed under: Generosity,Giving,Stewardship — cubsfan1980 @ 3:27 pm

If you like Groupon then you should check out http://philanthroper.com/ One of the most popular websites for people looking to save money is Groupon.  As Groupon has gained popularity other copycat sites like Living Social, Socially Ideal, Baby Steals, Very Jane, Plum District, SniqueAway have popped up that appeal to different niche markets.  All of these sites have the goal of selling something at a great price.  What is even better then gaining something, is giving something, which is why I love http://philanthroper.com/

philanthroper.com features a different non-profit every day for people to donate money to.  The non-profits vary from being on the regional to international level.  They have a goal of making giving a habit by only allowing people to give a dollar, 100% of which goes to the charities. Why only a dollar?  “So you can donate another $1 tomorrow. And another the next day. Use Philanthroper daily, and we guarantee, you’ll donate more over time than you would have otherwise plus it won’t sting your bank account so badly. Use Philanthroper every day and you’ll be on the right track to give more, more easily. If you’re compelled to make a larger donation, fantastic. We always link their site. So go for it. ”

Fast Company calls them, “a 21st century version of a classic philanthropist.” Check them out, you won’t regret it!

 

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June 24, 2011

What I Will Tell My Kids About Gay Marriage

Here I Stand

The problem with the way that many conservatives, including evangelicals, defend marriage is that they’ve dumbed it down to a point where when it is stood up against society’s current redefining of marriage there is hardly any recognizable difference.  Marriage, as God designed it is to be a picture of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:31-32). In a secular society, that is not always the case especially since everyone does not have the same worldview. Marriage, in America is quickly deteriorating from what God intended, with many people living together and having sex outside of marriage, the growing popularity of no-fault divorce and how pornography and infidelity run rampant.

In light of all of this, is it correct to say “anything goes”? Because of the separation of church and state should we just take the mindset that marriage is a state institution and it is up to individual states to decide? My fear is that if I do that, then I won’t be salt and light, which is why it is important to know what I believe and why.

The Bible is the solid ground on which I stand and form my convictions, all else is sinking sand. These convictions may make me sound judgemental and condemning, but my hope is that any judgement or condemnation someone sees me passing is the same judgement and condemnation that I deserve, but because of Christ free grace and rich mercy that all who seek to be crucified with Christ and find their life in Him may be free from any judgement or condemnation.

What’s Love Got To Do With It

Many people believe that marriage should be for two people who love each other and it doesn’t matter their gender.  I am not going to argue with that statement, because it is a great proposition.  Instead, ponder this, what does it matter if a person gains marriage, but loses their soul (Mark 8:36).  If we think that a couple, straight or homosexual, having the right to marry will complete them then we have set the bar far too low.  To quote C.S. Lewis “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”  If someone doesn’t have the opportunity to marry the person they love, then they may be momentarily missing out on something.  Ultimately, marriage is nothing compared to knowing Christ. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8).” By promoting any marriage not built on Christ, whether straight or homosexual, it does not matter how much love there is, there will be no eternal value in it.

The Culture Wars

Obviously, I would not stop a non-Christian couple from marrying.  I can imagine your reaction being that if a homosexual is born that way, then it is unfair that I would support laws that would stop them from marrying someone they loved.  In all honesty, I have trouble supporting laws that outlaw same-sex marriage because legislation is not the answer.  The law has no power to bring a person to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and without a relationship with Him how can I expect them to deny their desires?  I have friends that are homosexual and in same-sex relationships and marriages.  I have never told them that what they are doing is wrong.  Also, I have never outright supported their choice.

The media, our society and the political machine wants us to believe that a culture war is going on right now.  I believe that Jesus would scoff at the idea of a culture war.  I am not at war with any homosexuals who choose that lifestyle.  They do not need me telling them that they need to change.  They need to see the love of Jesus and that His grace is greater then all their sin.  If Jesus was walking the earth right now, it would probably be the homosexual couples and not the conservatives that He would spend His time with.

Jesus does not see people as straight or homosexual, but he sees all people as sinners who need a Savior.  Rules and laws will point out that we are sinners.  Rules and laws can go no further then bringing about shame and I fail as an ambassador of Christ if all I do is point to people’s sin without pointing to the Savior.  No one who comes to Jesus has to make a drastic life change before they come and as His representative I do not have to force people to change instantly when they come to Jesus.  The result of coming to Jesus is crucifying the flesh and no longer walking according to its passions and desires, but that always comes after faith and never as a condition (Galatians 5:24-25).  Straight people, homosexuals, all are free to come to Jesus and and find the satisfaction their soul has been longing for.

Does It Really Get Better

Many of you reading this, are probably familiar with the “It Gets Better” campaign.  Part of me wholeheartedly agrees with that campaign, with the ideal that people will grow up and mature so that others don’t have to fear being bullied, have the ability to visit a loved one in the hospital and not be ostracized by family and friends for being who they are.  Even if that day comes, things may temporarily be better, but ultimately there will be a day where we will all have to stand before God and give an account.  Hell is a real place, it is a place of eternal destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9), a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:30), and torment (Luke 16:23).  Any human rights that homosexuals gain to make this life better will not compensate for God’s holy wrath that He will pour out on sinners in the life to come.

It isn’t just homosexuals worthy of burning of eternally, but it is everyone. No one does good, no one chooses God (Romans 3). Every single person is born with a heart that is sinful and no one deserves to go to Heaven, except for Jesus who lived a perfect and righteous life and died on the cross to atone for the sins of gays, straights, liars, murderers, thieves, gossips, etc. Yes, that is condescending and judgmental, but it is filled with hope. It is gloriously beautiful because it means that salvation is not up to us and that we don’t go to Heaven because we do good things or live a “right lifestyle” but it is only because of the merits another.

Former homosexual and current evangelist Sy Rogers once said, “People doesn’t go to hell because they’re gay; they go because they’re separated from God.  Heterosexuals don’t automatically go to heaven; they go to hell too.  The opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality; it’s devotion to God and a holy lifestyle.”

In the book, “An Arrow Pointing Towards Heaven,” about the life of Rich Mullins, Rich tells the following story and I believe it truly gets to the heart of the matter.

I remember one time Beaker and I were hiking on the Appalachian Trail, and he met some friends of his, so I walked into town.  It was about a five-mile walk from the campsite down the trail…,down into town.  And when I got there I went into a restaurant and I was having a steak, and this guy started talking to me and we had this great conversation.  We were having a good time, and he said, “Hey look, it’s dark and it’s five miles up to your campground. Why I don’t I drive you up there?”
And I said, “Hey, Great!”
And so we got in his car, and just as we pulled out from under the last light in that town, the guy said, “You know what, I should probably tell you that I am gay.”
And I said, “Oh, I should probably tell you that I am a Christian.”
And he said, “Well, if you want out of the car…”
And I said, “Why?”
And he said, “Well, I’m gay and you’re Christian.”
I said, “It’s still five miles and it’s still dark.”
Then he said, “I thought Christians hated gays.”
I said, “That’s funny, I thought Christians were supposed to love. I thought that was our first command.”
He said, “Well, I thought God hated gays.”
And I said, “That’s really funny, because I thought God was love.”
And then he asked me the big one. He said, “Do you think I will go to hell for being a gay?”
Well, I’m a good Hoosier, and I puckered up to say, “Yes, of course you’ll go to hell for being gay.” I got ready to say that, but when I opened up my mouth it came out, “No, of course you won’t go to hell for being gay.” And I thought to myself, Oh my God, I’ve only been in New Hampshire for one week and I’ve already turned into a liberal! What am I going to tell this guy now?
Then I said to him, “No, you won’t go to hell for being gay, any more than I would go to hell for being a liar.  Nobody goes to hell because of what they do.  We go to hell because we reject the grace that God so longs to give to us, regardless of what we do.”

What Will I Say

I titled this post, “What I Will Tell My Kids About Gay Marriage.”  Some time in the future my children will ask me about gay marriage and human rights.  I can’t tell you today what I will say, most likely I won’t repeat all 1,800+ words to them that you just read (if you did read all of this, thank you and I’d love your thoughts). I know that it will be a message of grace because that is what everyone deserves even when we don’t see eye to eye.  It will be a message of acceptance because homosexuals are not second class citizens.  It will be a message of love because “we love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19).” It will be the message of the cross because homosexuals need the cross just as much as I do.

[9] Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, [10] nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. [11] And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

June 23, 2011

Great Parenting Tips

Filed under: cross,Doug Wolter,God's Faithfulness,Gospel,Whining — cubsfan1980 @ 11:10 pm
Tags: , , ,

I am supposed to be asleep right now, but I recently found a great new parenting resource that I can’t get enough of.  It is from Doug Wolter and it called, 10 Teachable Moments as Parents.  They are built upon the principle that “God is parenting me as I parent my kids”One of my favorite ones that I’ve read is far is called, “When Your Kids Keep Whining.”  

“Stop whining!”  I’m sure you’ve said that to your kids at one time or another.  You may have even whined back at them showing them how silly they sounded.  But then all of a sudden it hit you.  You’re just like them.  You’re a whiner, too.

I admit it.  I’m still whining even though I’m 34 years old.  It just looks a little different now.  I may not have the annoying whiny voice, but when I don’t get my way I complain and wonder why God is taking so long to answer me.  I don’t like to wait.  I’d rather whine.  I don’t like to keep knocking on the door of my prayer closet.  I’d rather keep complaining to my spouse at the dinner table.  I forget God’s faithfulness in the past and wonder why he can’t speed up the present.  Instead of waiting, I’m whining.

If anyone had a right to whine it was Jesus. Condescending to us as a poor, humble man destined to die on a cross for selfish rebels like us, he had every right to whine and complain.  Instead he lived a life of submission to his Father and dependence on the Spirit.  Yes he was God.  And yes he was sinless.  But he was also human.  He was tempted.  And He could’ve complained.  But he didn’t.  He waited and relied on his Father.  He trusted and depended on the Spirit.

So the next time your kid whines, stop and remember that you’re a whiner too.  But in Christ you don’t have to whine.  You can submit to your Father’s will and quietly depend on the Spirit to lead you.

 

June 21, 2011

Interpreting Abortion Biblically

The problem in American society when conservatives or liberals think about abortion is they think about the rights of women or the rights of the unborn.  Before any discussion about abortion happens, the first thought has to be about the rights of God.  John Piper has the following to say about the idea of God’s creator rights

The biblical mindset is not simply one that includes God somewhere in the universe and says that the Bible is true. The biblical mindset begins with a radically different starting point, namely, God. God is the basic given reality in the universe. He was there before we were in existence – or before anything was in existence. He is simply the most absolute reality.

And so the biblical mindset starts with the assumption that God is the center of reality. All thinking starts with the assumption that God has basic rights as the Creator of all things. He has goals that fit with his nature and perfect character. Then the biblical mindset moves out from this center and interprets the world, with God and his rights and goals as the measure of all things.

What the biblical mindset sees as basic problems in the universe are usually not the same problems that the secular mindset sees. The reason for this is that what makes a problem is not, first, that something doesn’t fit the rights and needs of man, but that it doesn’t fit the rights and goals of God. If you start with man and his rights and wants, rather than starting with the Creator and his rights and goals, the problems you see in the universe will be very different.

Is the basic riddle of the universe how to preserve man’s rights and solve his problems?(You can listen to or read the rest of that message here)

Today and yesterday Focus on The Family had a great program on helping men heal who have lost children to abortion.  One of the great points that they made is that you can’t just ask for forgiveness for taking the life of the unborn.  Healing is not found until we are reconciled to God by asking God for forgiveness for taking the life of His Son.

As the hymn, “I will glory In My Redeemer” states, “Mine was the sin that drove the bitter nails and hung Him on that judgement tree.”  Abortion can’t be rightly understood apart from the cross. The greatest offense isn’t an infringement upon a woman’s right or the loss of the unborn’s life.  The greatest offense is that God has been taken off of his throne so that we may live as we want with a disregard for His rule and way.

Once God is the starting point of the abortion debate, there is no middle ground or gray area.  He is the creator of life, all humans, born and unborn are made in His image.  Without the Bible as the standard of truth then there is no way to say if abortion is right or wrong.  If the cross is taken out of the equation then there is no healing for those who have chosen abortion.  A sovereign God who intends good has to be our guide or what reason is there to choose life?

June 16, 2011

Moms Are Missionaries

I usually like to think of my audience as primarily dads, but this quote for the moms is to great to pass up

At the very heart of the gospel is sacrifice, and there is perhaps no occupation in the world so intrinsically sacrificial as motherhood. Motherhood is a wonderful opportunity to live the gospel. Jim Elliot famously said, “He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Motherhood provides you with an opportunity to lay down the things that you cannot keep on behalf of the people that you cannot lose. They are eternal souls, they are your children, they are your mission field.

You can read the rest at the Desiring God blog here

June 15, 2011

Exceedingly Good News

The following is taken from Chris Wright’s book, “The Missing of God’s People.”

  • Only in the cross is there forgiveness, justification and cleansing for guilty sinner.
  • Only in the cross stands the defeat of evil powers.
  • Only in the cross is there release from the fear of death and its ultimate destruction altogether.
  • Only in the cross are even the most intractable of enemies reconciled.
  • Only in the cross will we finally witness the healing of all creation.

The fact is that sin and evil constitute bad news in every area of life on this planet. The redemptive work of God through the cross of Chris t is good news for every area of life on earth that has been touched by sin – which means every area of life. Bluntly, we need a holistic gospel because the world is in a holistic mess. And by God’s incredible grace we have a gospel big enough to redeem all that sin and evil have touched. And every dimension of that good news is good news utterly and only because of the blood of Christ on the cross.

Ultimately all that will  be in there in the new, redeemed creation will be there because of the cross. And conversely, all that will not  be there (suffering, tears, sin, Satan, sickness, oppression, corruption, decay and death), will not be there because they will have been defeated and destroyed by the cross. That is the length, breadth, height and depth of God’s idea of redemption. It is exceedingly good news…There is no other power, no other resource, no other name, through which we can offer the whole Gospel to the whole person and the whole word, than Jesus Christ crucified and risen.

June 14, 2011

Living Supernaturally

I don’t always appreciate the writing of Andrée Seu but I thought the following was really poignant

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
(John 4:10 ESV)

If you and I knew who Jesus was—really, really knew—would we pray differently? Wouldn’t it expand our imagination? Isn’t this what Jesus is saying to this Samaritan woman he has struck up a conversation with at the well: “Lady, if you really knew who you were talking to here, you and I wouldn’t be wasting our time in theological debate; you would be inundating me with requests for all your spiritual needs”?

My dullness about God tends to fall along two lines: Dullness about how powerful he wants to be in our lives and dullness about how involved he wants to be in our lives. I act as if forgiveness of sins is His entire gift, and not also the breaking of bondages, the bending of impossibilities, and the undoing varieties of the devil’s handiwork (1 John 3:8). You can read the rest here http://online.worldmag.com/2011/06/08/if-you-knew/

When God becomes dull the problem is never God, but always me.  I have a short sighted view and miss what God eternal big picture is and how He is working.  My perspective misses what He has already done on the cross and how He has solved my greatest need and triumphed over the greatest evil and displayed more power and love then humanly imaginable.  Often times my wisdom only looks back on human history, but God goes beyond the confines times, to before there was time, when He set me apart to be holy and blameless to the praise of His glorious grace, experiencing all of the blessings of being in the beloved (Ephesians 1:4-6). Now that is supernatural.  God is not dull, and even in the mundane, I am serving a supernatural God who is calling me to live supernaturally.   

When I get bored with my circumstances, work or any aspect of daily living I need to press into Jesus knowing that this is not all He has in store for me.  I need to remember that He is bigger then I can comprehend and even in the littlest things He is working.  Even though naturally I can’t see His hand and what He is doing in every instance, I know every second He is at work refining me.  Life is never dull, because God is never dull and has more then just forgiveness of sins for me, but life and life to the full.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
(John 10:10 ESV)

June 10, 2011

How To Train For A Half Marathon

I have been blogging less because I have been working out more and that working out is primarily in the form of running.  One of the great things about running is all of the correlations with it and the Christian life.  I want to use this blog to open up more with what God has taught me spiritually through running as well as practical tips for people who want to become runners.

The following question recently came to me: “I’ve been wanting to run a half marathon. I’m not a runner. Any advice on where to start, how to train, or what NOT to do? Any tip”

The famous running coach Hal Higdon in his novice half marathon plan believes that anyone wanting to run a half marathon should be able to run three miles three to four miles a week.  You can find out more about his plan here http://www.halhigdon.com/halfmarathon/novice.htm

The best place to start in terms of being able to run three miles three to four times a week is with the Couch To 5k Plan, also known as c25k.  You can find more information on that plan here http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml

Here is my list of do’s and don’ts from what I’ve learned in training for two half marathons and one full marathon.

DO:

  • Find a local running store where you can get a gait analysis and be fitted for the right kind of shoe.  A very few people are blessed with great biomechanics and can run in any shoe.  Others, like myself and the majority of runners out there, need to know what shoe type fits them best to help avoid injury.
  • Find accountability, it can either be in a running club, a friend to run with or an online running group such as Runner’s World Online It is so helpful to have people who will push you, encourage you and know what you are going through.
  • Find a training plan you can use as a guide.  No training plan has to be set in stone, feel free to take liberties.  Listen to your body if you need to take rest days then do that without feeling guilty.  If you feel good, go harder and longer then the plans call for with moderation.  If you are sore, tired, fatigued, then do modify the plan to allow your body to recover.
  • Run shorter races to get used to the race day excitement before the big half marathon.
  • Remember that 13.1 miles should not be considered half of anything.  http://teampikermi.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=48&Itemid=54
  • Have fun!
  • Celebrate the little and the big milestones, such as running 5 miles without stopping or noticing yourself getting faster.
  • When it is hot and humid out, be sure to hydrate.
  • Keep a training log.  There are a ton of great online tools for keeping a training log.  Some of the most popular ones are dailymile.com mapmyrun.com runningahead.com A training log is helpful for seeing your progress and how far you’ve come.
  • Take the good days and the bad days with a grain of salt.  Not every day will be a perfect run where you feel like you are on cloud 9 and could run forever.  Different factors can cause a bad run.  Don’t fret over a bad run, just know they happen and keep moving forward.  Don’t let your best training run or your worst training run define you.  Remember, running is a gift from God.  He has blessed you with the ability to walk, run and do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). Running isn’t about you and what you can do and accomplish, it is about God and glorifying Him.  When it becomes more then that it becomes idolatry.

Don’t

  • Feel like you need all the most expensive and best gear and gadgets.  Some people will swear by performance shirts and their GPS watches.  Performance shirts are nice, but not necessary.  I have never used a GPS watch, but I’ve heard they can be beneficial.  The problem with GPS watches is that it teaches people to run by a certain pace, but not to run according to effort.
  • Overdo it.  The bulk of injuries happen to new runners who try to do to much to soon.  Whether that is too much mileage or too much speedwork.
  • Make running a chore or something you have to do.  Once you stop enjoying it or it becomes a burden, reevaluate why you are doing it.
  • Overcomplicate things.  Running in its simplest form is quiet simple, that is why the list of don’ts is so short.  All of the do’s are pretty basic, but are all things that are easy to forget.

I’ll leave you with a few quotes from Running Times that are helpful in terms of putting things in perspective.  The last quote I took a liberty to add my own words in parenthesis.

  • It’s not uncommon to go to bed thinking “Darn, I should have run today.” It’s not common to go to bed thinking. “I shouldn’t have run today.”
  • Something is always better than nothing. There will be days when some aspect of reality intrudes and you have to scrap your ideal-world training plan. That doesn’t make scrapping the whole affair the logical conclusion. A 4-miler is much closer to 10-miler then it is to 0 miles for the day.
  • Relax, it’s just running. Of course it can be the most intoxicating, captivating, meaningful part of your life. But it’s still just running. Nobody’s making you do it, and you’re not going to save the world (or your soul) doing it. So find what you enjoy about running, and then follow your bliss.

If you get the chance, I’d recommend the book, “Marathoning For Mortals” by John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield although I would not recommend the training plan in the book, this book is packed with a ton of great information for someone preparing to run their first half or full marathon.

June 4, 2011

Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick – A Review

With some parenting books, it is hard to read them cover to cover.  Often times when reading a parenting book I’ll go to the table of contents and flip to the section that covers the age range of my child.  “Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids With The Love of Jesus” by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson is different, you will not only read it cover to cover, but also find yourself reading it again and again.  This book will help you to see that your child’s biggest problem isn’t their sinful action, but their sinful hearts.  When reading this book you will see that your parenting can never be good enough, but only God’s grace can make your parenting sufficient to transform your child.

This book is written without being divided into practical application for the age range of children.  The reason for this is because when dealing with toddlers, teenagers and even adults there is no difference with the root of issues that come up.  Kids, just like adults, don’t need more rules to make them good and bring them closer to God.  “Give Them Grace” does not ignore the need for rules, training and discipline but it gives the crucial reminder that all of that is meant to lead to kids to Jesus.  “We are commanded to give them the law so that they will be crushed by it and see their need for a Savior. The law won’t make them good. It will make them despair of ever being good enough and in that way it will make them open to the love, sacrifice and welcome of their Savior, Jesus Christ.”

It isn’t just kids who need Jesus, but also parents.  The task of parenting is impossible without God’s grace.  Our best effort at parenting might produce “good kids” but it won’t change their hearts.  “Raising good kids is utterly impossible unless they are drawn by the Holy Spirit to put their faith in the goodness of another. You cannot raise good kids, because you’re not a good parent. There is only one good Parent, and he had one good Son. Together, this Father and Son accomplished everything that needed to be done to rescue us and our children from certain destruction.” One of the things I appreciated about this book is the humility of the authors.  They don’t claim to have it down or be good parents.  They are in the same boat as all of us and write with humility as they proclaim their own need for grace.

I wish Crossway would allow me to give out one free chapter of this book for you to read because by just reading one chapter I know you’d be convinced to buy the whole book.  Even if Crossway would allow me to give away one free chapter to convince readers to buy the book, it would be hard for me to pick just one that I think people should read because they are all so good.  If you want to apply the gospel to parenting and have your parenting be saturated in the gospel then I could not encourage you enough to buy this book.

A quick note to the men: this is the first Elyse Fitzpatrick book I have ever read.  My wife has read me selections of “Because He Loves Me” and I thought that book sounds good, but the cover is to feminine for me, maybe I’ll read it when an edition comes out with a camouflage cover.  Next my wife shared portions of “Comforts From The Cross,” the cover was less girly, but I feared losing man points because this wasn’t “Strength From The Cross.”  Please don’t make the mistake that Elyse Fitzpatrick only writes for a female audience.  This book isn’t just for mom’s, but also for dad’s.

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