Bought by the Blood

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)

Advertisements

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.

December 24, 2009

God and Sinners Reconciled

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? Mark 8:35-37

In the beginning was God. He created all things and through Him all things were created.  He was eternally and infinitely blessed with there being nothing that could ever add to His happiness (John 1).  Despite all of this, God made Himself nothing and gave His all to save the souls of man.  He came down from His throne in Heaven and forfeited His perfect communion with the Father as well as all the attributes of the Godhead to rescue sinners.  By taking on flesh He was able to die our death and give up His righteousness so that our penalty could be His and we can have an inheritance greater than the whole world (2 Corinthians 5).

Although He was God, He took on the form of a helpless baby. His was a lowly status so that He could serve all mankind, to return to us the soul’s that we lost at the fall when sin and death took Adam’s helpless race into bondage.  Jesus embodied humility and this is evident by His life of obedience and submission to His Father’s will (Philippians 2).  He counted the cost and bore the scorn and shame of the cross to save sinners.  The Son of God gave up His life on the tree so that we could have it to the full.

Therefore how should we live?  The Christmas story calls us to be ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5). Our lives should be joyous ones because we have been given good news of great joy (Luke 2:10).  Every step we should take should be one of liberation because one who was fully God and fully man has broken the head of satan who enslaved us to unrighteousness and sin (Genesis 3).  Jesus lost His life so that we can gain ours, therefore we need to find our life in Him and be a people defined by His redeeming work.  Our greatest profit is the reward of being reconciled to God.   Christ was born in a manger on Christmas day, died on the cross in our place, raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so that we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).

August 20, 2009

Physical Boundaries Discussion Outlines

Conviction:  Safeguards and precautions that we have put in place by faith, to aid us in seeking God’s grace and guard us from sinning.
Legalism:  Adding anything to Scripture that isn’t there for the purpose of gaining favor with God for fear of losing our salvation and applying/enforcing that standard on all people everywhere.

Why is it better to form principles off of conviction instead of legalism?

  • Conviction leads to strength
  • Conviction leads to humility
  • Conviction leads to repentance
  • Conviction is based on the heart
  • Legalism leads to doubts
  • Legalism leads to pride
  • Legalism leads to condemnation
  • Legalism is based on action

How do we come to convictions?

  • God’s Word
  • Examples of Others
  • Fearing God
  • Input from others
  • Prayer
  • Impressions/Ministry of Holy Spirit
  • Walking through repentance of sin

Four principles that should guard physical boundaries in relationships
1)Satisfying our hearts in God
Job 31:1
“I have made a covenant with my eyes;
how then could I gaze at a virgin?

Q:NIV uses “lust” instead of “gaze.”  where does lust come from?
A: Lust comes from the heart.  The first place we need to be concerned with as we set up physical boundaries is our hearts. (Matthew 5:27-30)
Q:How should we be active with guarding our hearts?
A:We need to seek to find complete satisfaction in God alone because lust will never satisfy us. (Jeremiah 2:11-13 and Psalm 37:4)

2)Righteousness
Romans 6:12-14
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Q:How are we called to act?
A:As instruments of righteousness
Q:How do we define righteousness?
A: Doing right comes from God’s holy standard.  Therefore, we should interact physically with our significant with a mindset of God being present and aware of what is going on in our hearts (Proverbs 5:21)
Q:What motivates this?
A:Grace and Christ sacrifice on the cross.  We are empowered through Christ death and resurrection to live pure.  We have been called to holiness and purity and God will not call us to anything that He won’t enable us to do.

3)Contentment with purity
Philippians 4:11
for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
Proverbs 27:20
Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied,
and never satisfied are the eyes of man.

Q: Why is contentment important with physical boundaries?
A: We will never be satisfied with our level of intimacy.  We are wired to want more.  Just like the eyes are never satisfied, nor are the hands or lips.
Q:Why do we do if there is a problem with our boundaries not being fun?
A: There is never a problem with our boundaries.  The problem is always with our hearts.  We need to remember what Psalm 16 says about the boundary lines falling for us in pleasant places.  There is no place more pleasant to be than on the path to holiness.  Relationships aren’t about getting what we want and our pleasure, but giving God glory.

“We understood the progressive nature of sexual involvement.  Once you start kissing, you want to move on.  We didn’t want to start what we couldn’t finish.  When a man and woman’s lips meet, and their tongues penetrate each other’s mouths, their process of becoming one has begun.”Josh Harris

4)Defining proper context for physical intimacy.
Song of Solomon 2:7
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you not stir up or awaken love
until it pleases.

Song of Solomon 3:5
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you not stir up or awaken love
until it pleases.

Song of Solomon 8:4
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
that you not stir up or awaken love
until it pleases.

Q:What does it mean to not stir or awaken love until it pleases?
A:Hold off on doing anything physically intimate that can strengthen or arouse the desire for making love
Q:What is the purpose of physical intimacy in marriage?
A:In marriage physical intimacy is worship.  Outside of marriage, physical intimacy is about pleasure and becomes about objectifying the other person.
Q:what is the best way to gauge if the physical boundaries in place are stirring and awakening love before the proper time?
A:The question to ask ourselves is how can certain physical acts (kissing, cuddling, front hugs) bring us closer to God.  It is helpful to remember no one ever says after marriage that they wish they had been more physically intimate before marriage.

“They often ask where to draw the line for sexual activity outside of marriage.  What they are asking is how close they can to sin while still being without sin.  But there is already sin in their heart because they are seeking to get closer to sin and not closer to God.  The Bible says, “But among you there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality (Ephesians 5:3).”  Thus, the issue is now where the line is, but when the time is. That is why the repeated refrain in the Song Solomon is a warning not “Stir or awaken love until it pleases.” ” Mark Driscoll

August 11, 2009

A Missional Life

He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake. – Psalm 23:2-3

In these two verses we see a progression happening with God’s actions with the Psalmist.  God provides peace and rest for our weary souls by making us lie down in green pastures.  In the trials and circumstances of life He renews our eternal perspective by leading us besides still waters.  When we are under attack by satan and our flesh He restores us.  We are able to walk in righteousness because of His Holy Spirit working in us.  This is all possible because of the cross where Jesus died for our sins.  He does this to make His name great and to bring glory to Himself because of He is rightly deserving of all glory, honor and praise.

If we are truly God’s sheep, we will not make assumptions about our status in the flock (Philippians 2:12).  Instead, we will be diligent to make sure that we are counted among the sheep and not the goats.  This means making the choice of seeking God instead of the things of this world (Philippians 3:7-9).  When we make our time with God a priority we come to the green pastures and still waters that our souls were meant for.  Nothing can restore and make us whole like communing with God (Psalm 63:1-3).

Spending time with God will transform our lives and make us delight in the paths of righteousness.  Choosing righteousness is not supposed to be something we do begrudgingly, but only comes by God’s grace working through us as we exercise the spiritual disciplines.   By delighting in righteousness we become missionaries and ambassadors for God.  A life led in the path of righteousness is a life with a missional attitude that seeks to display the character of Christ to all (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  Our salvation isn’t primarily for us, it benefits us directly, but it is for the purpose of benefiting others so that they may know the God who has saved us and so that we can be a blessing to them (Genesis 12:3).  That is why the sheep are called to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and visit the lonely; by doing these things God’s name is made much of us and the Gospel is made real to an unbelieving world (Matthew 25:31-40).

August 7, 2009

a conversation with Luther on eternal salvation

who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. – 1 Peter 1:5

Me: Martin, can you explain to me how based on the above verse I can be assured of my salvation:?

Martin Luther: You have a strong rear-guard and helper, whose name is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He has begun a good work in you, and he must also complete it or all is lost.  He will guard you through His divine almighty strength and power that you may continue steadfast in the faith of his word and await the salvation in the living hope through patience prepared for you from the foundation of the world, lying yet hidden and mantled, reserved and sealed, so that it remains indeed invulnerable and sure.  However in due time it will, in the twinkling of an eye, be opened and uncovered so that you may view it forever and possess it as your joy.

Me: Wow, that is really deep.  How do I know that my faith steadfast and real?

Luther:Faith is a divine power.  When God produces faith, man must be born in another way and become a new creature; good works flowing from a purified nature must follow faith.  So that we dare not say to a Christian who has faith, Do this or that work, for he performs of himself and unbidden nothing but good works.  But this must be said to him, that he is not to deceive himself with a false, imaginary faith.

Me: Luther you are one smart dude.  I am sure glad you started the protestant reformation.  Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
Luther: The secure and false Christians, who are always more than the true believers, have no correct information concerning faith, for they think if they straightway fall into and continue in sin – yet they only believe – then there is no danger, for faith alone justifies without any good works.  In that, they rest.  They do nothing good, yea, only evil, and for all that, they wish to be Christians.  But they are worse than the heathen.  However, we heard above that faith begets new men and makes all things new in the heart, mind and senses.  These new men then as good tree, bear good fruit, and lead a holy life.  Where this is not the case, there is no true faith.

All of Luther’s answers were taken from his commentary on the epistles of Peter.

July 30, 2009

I will never leave you nor forsake you

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.  – Hebrews 13:20-21

The second reason why we can have assurance of our salvation stated by the Westminster Confession of Faith is because of God’s “decree and covenant to give them perseverance.”  There are three proof text used (2 Timothy 2:19, Hebrews 13:20-21 and 2 Samuel 23:5), but I only want to look at one and that is Hebrews 13:20-21.  To read more about God’s covenant with sinful man you can read a post I wrote called, “All We Need is Love,” today I want to focus on God’s decree and what He has decreed about us that give us confidence in our salvation.  The beauty of this doctrine that we see in Hebrews 13:21 is that it is about God’s glory.  If it was for our name sake and who we are that we have confidence in our persevering until we are glorified then we’d not have anything weighty to rest on.  Our salvation is not for the purpose of making much of us, but it is for God’s namesake (Psalms 106:8) and to make much of Him, therefore our foundation is not something imperishable, but the imperishable blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:23).  God is glorified in the fact that we can’t fall away because as Michael Horton states, “Of what sort of regeneration would the Holy Spirit be the author if those whom He he has resurrected and given eternal life are capable of dying spiritually again.”

What God has declared over us is peace, we are no longer at enmity with Him, the hostility that we had against God is over as we are now reconciled by Christ blood.  God is our peace and has made it so that no sin will ever come between us and him (Ephesians 2:14-18).  Once we were God’s enemies, but now He has adopted us into His family.   To borrow an illustration from Horton, no child can tell their parents that the mother did not give birth to them or that the dad is not their natural father.  As hard as we may try to run or fight against God, His love will always be victorious and secure those who He has called.  This is because of grace, it is by grace we have been saved and no good works of our own Ephesians 2:8-10).  What comfort we can draw from this truth of adoption by God’s grace, that there is no more striving but only feeding on God’s grace and living by His unmerited favor as He grows us.

Lastly, it is important to note that God is equipping and working in us, He is the One making it possible for us to persevere.  He has begun a good work and is faithful to bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6).  If He did not work in us, then we would have plenty of reason to worry, we can trust that if He brought us out of sin and into newness of life then He will sustain us and bring us home safely to glory.  When the Israelites escaped Egypt and backslid, God could have wiped them out, but He preserved them for His glory so that all would see His power (Deuteronomy 9:25-28).  It is the same with us, God has promised to be gracious to us, and in spite of our sin and continual failure, He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).  Grace is not just the basis of our salvation, but it also enables us to keep on trusting on God and works in us to bring us home to Heaven. Jesus has decreed “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:28-29).”  Let us take Him at His Word and believe and rest in the grace that gives eternal life from start to finish.

July 7, 2009

Knowing God

But the Lord is the true God;
he is the living God and the everlasting King.
At his wrath the earth quakes,
and the nations cannot endure his indignation. – Jeremiah 10:10

The most important question that any person can ask themselves is, “Who is God?”  In Jeremiah we find three essential claims to our understanding of who God is.  The first thing we learn about God is He is the true God, there are other gods that will try to take his place, but they are idols which will one day crumble.  Idols such as money, sex, power, fame and other tools of satan and this world which seek to entice, but they are false gods and have no power or eternal worth.  Secondly, we learn that God is living, He is active and sovereign over this world.  Everything is directed by Him and being guided to an end point predetermined by Him where every knee on earth, above the earth and below the earth will bow down and worship Him (Philippians 2:10).  Lastly, in this verse we see that God is the everlasting King.  He rules over this world and He is majestic in holiness (Exodus 15:11), He is the King from which all kings draw their kingship.

The second most important question we can ask is how we can be made right with this God.  To quote Matthew Henry, “Sinners should be afraid.  They have an angry God above thenm a guilty conscience in them, and a yawning hell below them.”  If we are honest with ourselves we are aware that we do not treat this everlasting King with the reverence and adoration He deserves.  None of us seek Him as we should, we are not good and do not do good (Romans 3:11-12).  Therefore, we are all deserving of His wrath and if the earth quakes under His wrath, imagine the effect that His wrath will have on us.  It is a terrifying thought to think of the weeping and gnashing of teeth that we will endure.  We will not be able to endure the outpouring of His wrath on us, although we will not be able to endure it, we will wish for it to end and for our pitiful existence to end, but Hell is real and eternal. Because sin is an infinite offense against God, the punishment is infinite as well.

The way we are made right with God is not through anything that we can do.  We cannot earn His favor, but it must come by grace or mercy.  If we would be able to earn it, then that means that the offense is not infinite.  Since we cannot earn it that means that it comes to us as a free and undeserved gift (Romans 6:23).  The means of this free and undeserved gift is the cross on which Jesus died to redeem sinners. His work on the cross reconciles and brings us near to God because we can’t come near on our own (Hebrews 9:11-22). If we claim His blood as ours then He gives us robes of righteousness to wear, when God sees us wearing Christ righteousness He passes over our sin and sees us as objects of His love.  His wrath was spent on Christ on the cross so that we may be adopted as children of the everlasting King, the true and living God.

May 13, 2009

Mothers Day Letter

Dear Miya,

It has been several weeks since I’ve written you a letter.  As you have gotten bigger you have definitely been more of a handful and I’ve had less time to write you.  This is a letter I was hoping to write you sooner, but it is better late than never to let you know worthy of honor your mother is.  When you are old enough, you will fulfill the call of Proverbs 31:28 and rise up and call your mother blessed.  Your mother is a great example of a Proverbs 31 woman for you to emulate as you grow older.  Miya, I hope you never tire of me telling you how blessed you are for God choosing a very special woman to be your mommy.

One of the blessings of our church is that there are many women who take the call to biblical femininity seriously.  In the midst of all those great examples, your mother surpasses them all.  Look to your mommy and follow her example of what she prioritizes.  Learn from her that fearing the Lord will always be more important than charm and beauty which are deceitful and vain.  Your mother labors long and hard to have healthy meals for us and a clean home, her love for us is clearly evident all around.  In the care groups that we have been a part of God’s grace shines in your mother’s life as others have had their souls tended to by her.

Growing up to fill the shoes of your mom is a high calling.  The godly trait in mommy that both she and I pray that you will have is a heart for Jesus.  The reason why mommy is such a great mommy is because of Christ in her and His Spirit is shaping her to be like Him.  If you trust in the grace that is made available through the cross and Christ death for your sins, then He will empower you to a live for His glory.  Mommy lives for God’s glory and this is not something she does by her own strength.  Call upon Jesus and He will give you salvation and start a new work in you that He will one day bring to completion, He did it for mommy and I and he will do it for you.

Love,
Papa

April 23, 2009

Jehovah Jirah

The first small group discussion I ever led was on Genesis 22.  Without a doubt this is one of my favorite Bible passages.  With a rare opportunity to create a discussion I jumped at the opportunity to use this passage again for a discussion topic.  I actually didn’t lead the discussion, but I passed the outline off to my friend Dave to lead as I was home with my dear newborn daughter Miya.  Dave made some edits and improvements to the outline, so I can’t take 100% credit for what you see below.

In  light of Easter Sunday we are discussing Genesis 22.  There are two questions that Lew wants us to consider.  Actually, three questions, but we be providentially blessed to make it through two questions.  The two questions are:

  1. How does this passage foreshadow the cross?
  2. what do we learn about God from this passage?
There are many things that we learn about God from this passage, to get us headed in the direction that Lew wants our conversation to go, we are going to play a little game.  At this point, split the group up in half for the game.  Tell them that the group who wins get an ultra special prize.  The point of the game is to have them list out all of the names of God that they can think of in five minutes.  They can use a Bible if they want to.  After the time limit have one group read their list, if the other group has that name then they need to both cross  it off.  Next, have the other group read their names that were not crossed off.  Each group gets a point for each unique name.  At this point, before you announce the prize, hype it up as something ultra special.  The group with the most points gets a pat on the back.

Ask them to look at the list of names they have and ask if based on the list what specifically I want them to discuss about God’s character.  The correct answer is the name “Jehovah Jirah,” this name means that “God will see to it.”

  • Read Gen 22:1-14

1. How does this passage foreshadow the cross?

Before we discuss how this passage foreshadows the cross, I want to read a quote from James Montgomery Boice: “Genesis 22 is the first passage since Genesis 3:15 in which we are pointed to the love and provision of God for guilty sinners through Christ’s crucifixion.”  There are some obvious and some not so obvious ways that we see the cross.  Since some of these ways are not so obvious, I have included questions that you can ask the group to give them clues.  I have listed out 7 ways, there might be more that people find, but try to get them to find at least these seven ways.  If any of these are unclear let me know, the second one will probably be the toughest for the group to get.

  • Answer: Sacrifice of beloved Son
    1. Question:  How are the sons being offered viewed by their fathers John 3:16 and Genesis 22:2
  • Answer: Mt. Moriah is Jerusalem, where Jesus went to die
    1. Question: what is the significance of the location 2 Chronicles 3:1
  • Answer: There is a confidence in the ressurrection
    1. Question:  Why can these sons be offered up Hebrews 11:17-19
  • Answer: The father initiated
    1. Question: What is the role of the father
  • Answer: The son was willing
    1. Question: what was the role of the son
      1. Important note: Many commentators and scholars believe that Isaac was in his late teens/early twenties.  He willingly let Abraham tie him up as the sacrifice because he could have easily overpowered his father and not allowed himself to be tied up.
  • Answer: a lamb was provided for us
    1. Question: what did God provide Genesis 22:8 and John 1:29
  • Answer: There three days of uncertainty
    1. question: Length of Abraham’s journey and Christ time in the tomb Genesis 22:4 and 1 Corinthians 15:4/Matthew16:21
      1. Important Note:  The difference between this and number 2 is that Abraham didn’t know what the resurrection would be and there was doubt to the outcome of his and Isaac’s journey.  Christ didn’t have any uncertainty, but when we look at the disciples and the woman they had uncertainty as they surely thought that the crucifixion was the end.

Encourage them to get into the habit to look for the promise of Christ, the cross and ressurrection on every page of the Old Testament.  the Old Testament isn’t just history, a book of rules, but it is God speaking to us about the salvation that He is preparing through His Son.  It is a love story that finds its resolution in the New Testament.  Let me know if you want more info on this to share with the group.

2. What do we learn about God from this passage?

  • Why do you think Abraham choose the name, “God will see to it” instead of “God has seen to it.”?
  • Ask for volunteers to read Philippians 4:19 and Romans 8:32

19And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

  • How does knowing about Christ’s sacrifice for us enable us to say “God will see to it?”

[God’s provision isn’t just a one time thing, but He will always provide for our needs; furthermore, we can trust that because He has provided i) what is most costly to Him (His Son), and ii) what is most important for us (justification before God), we can have confidence that He will preserve us until the day we see Him face to face – in Piper’s words, we can have faith in future grace through experiencing God’s past grace]

  • What comfort do we find in this truth?
  • Does anyone have any testimonty of how God has met their needs?
  • How do we battle doubts about God meeting our needs? [look back to the cross]
Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.