Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I was thinking tonight about the service tomorrow, and I was praying that God would direct me with what He wanted me to do for the music time. In my time of meditation I thought back to what I have been reading recently in the book of Acts. I started thinking about Saul’s conversion and how God chose him and then used him as Paul. I thought about how amazing it was that God rescued Saul out of the middle of his sin and saved him by His grace. I also started thinking about the lyrics to a song that was on my heart. The lyrics read: I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wondered how He could love me, a sinner, condemned and unclean.
When I thought about these lyrics my mind was taken back to Saul, a man who really did stand in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene. (Actually, Saul was knocked to the ground!) The point is, Saul was a man that really did stand in the presence of Jesus of Nazareth on his way to kill Christians in the city of Damascus. Jesus interrupted Saul’s journey and poured His grace into a life that was consumed with hatred. Saul was physically blinded by the encounter with Jesus but for the first time in his life the eyes of his heart were opened to the truth. We see in Scripture that Saul went from being a Christ hating murderer to a chosen vessel of God’s grace to spread the gospel all over the world.
Again the lyrics of the hymn came to my mind and I thought about what Paul might think of those lyrics. I think Paul would have loved it! In fact, I am sure Paul had a version of his own. Paul’s account of his conversion in Acts 26:9 sounds a lot like this song. His comments in Ephesians 3:7-12 also indicate that He loved God’s grace because he knew he was undeserving of it. Paul probably sang a song much like this one in his own quiet times when he thought back to his conversion. I bet his chorus was a lot like ours today: How Marvelous! How wonderful! And my song shall ever be: How Marvelous! How Wonderful is my Saviors love for me!
In my time of thinking, I also thought about John Newton who wrote the lyrics to Amazing Grace. John was a case too where God rescued him from a life of hatred. John captained a slave ship, and once John encountered God's grace, God changed his life forever. His lyrics have been remembered in churches all over the planet in the hymn about God's grace. God shows us that He can take the biggest sinners and make them the most influential people of their day for the sake of the good news of His grace.
However, God also showed me that I should be just as amazed and overjoyed at His grace in my own life. My sin in God’s eyes was and is just as bad as the sins of Saul. Jesus says in Luke 7:47 that a person who is forgiven much will love much and a person who is forgiven little will love little. I have been convicted tonight that I might not love and respond in right worship like Paul and John Newton would, because I in some ways have forgotten that I have been forgiven of much myself. I was a murderer, rapist, thief, and blasphemer at heart, and like the song says: He took my sins and my sorrows and He made them His very own, He bore my burden to Calvary and suffered and died alone. Jesus did that out of obedience to His Father for the sake of His glory, but He also did it because He loved and desired to rescue me.
If you are a follower of Jesus, join me tonight in two things:
First, join me in remembering our own sin and God’s great grace all the while meditating on this truth until our souls can sing out How Marvelous! How Wonderful!
Secondly, join me in praying for the salvation of Penn Jillette. Penn is a man known for his devout dedication to atheism. When I was thinking about Saul earlier I tried to think of someone that could be a modern day Saul…someone who hated Christianity and was very influential. After some focused thinking, I thought of Penn. I believe that if God saved Penn, the Holy Spirit through Penn could affect our modern world much like Paul did his. The results would be devastating for the enemy. Join me in praying for this man.
When with the ransomed in glory, His face I at last shall see.
Twill be my joy through the ages to sing of His love for me.
-“I Stand Amazed” Charles Hutchinson 1856-1932
Friday, November 13, 2009
I have been reading through 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel over the last couple of weeks, and I must say that the entire story of Samuel, Saul, David, all the battles, and all of the events is completely amazing! The unfolding story is very captivating and would make an intense movie... However, I as I have said before, I am very convicted tonight over a thought that has popped into my mind a few times now while reading through these great books. This thought is a perfect example of how I do not see sin how God sees it. This thought usually voices itself with an intrusive, "man, isn't that punishment a little too intense?"
While I was reading through Saul's story in 1 Samuel, there was a specific instance in chapter 13 when Saul decided to offer a sacrifice to God right after being anointed king. Sounds good right? Well... not really. Apparently Saul had been instructed to wait for Samuel, and after a long 7 days and no sign of Samuel, Saul decided to go ahead and offer the sacrifice. Well, as you could expect, Saul gets caught right in the middle of offering the sacrifice by Samuel who arrived right on time. Samuel then basically said, "What in the world are you doing?" To sum it up, Saul explains he is just trying to offer a sacrifice to God and didn't think Samuel was coming. Samuel then tells him this: "You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD you God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart" (vs. 13). Now it is sad to say, but my first thought after reading this was "man, isn't that a little too intense? I mean, Saul just disobeyed in this one small area, right? What about second chances? I understand that obedience is crucial, but isn't that a little harsh?"
Why would I think something like this? Well, it is because even though I claim that I know that obedience is crucial, I really don't realize how serious God is about obedience and how infinitely treacherous it is to sin against God. (This also means then that I really don't understand that obedience is crucial) Time after time in these passages, someone will disobey and God will punish the sin. However, this is not a picture of a mean God who delights in punishing people and who is a psycho about people following all the rules; it is a picture of God's holy justice towards sin and disobedience. It is absolutely right for God to punish the sin; it is absolutely crucial that God punish the sin. In order to be just, God must punish sin. It is this crucial because His holiness demands it. However, I sometimes tend to weigh the sin that I see people commit against God in the same way I would weigh sin against another man. But, this is a horrible outlook on sin! "Sin against God is not trivial" as John Piper states, "it is treason!" (For Your Joy, pg. 12)
So, for Saul to disobey the LORD of heaven in this passage is treason! It is not the same as if a friend told me to do something and I didn't do it. The fact that I didn't do it would probably hurt his feelings but would never merit drastic consequences. However, if a parent or teacher told me to do something and I did not do it I would probably be in line for some type of consequence. However, going even further, if the president of our country told me to do something and I didn't I could probably expect some prison time. I hope you see that the higher the authority the more serious the disobedience. However, God is infinitely more deserving of our obedience than any human figure. It is treason to sin against God and must be punished. God is not unjust by taking a kingdom away from someone or allowing a child to die (2 Samuel 12), neither is He unjust by allowing someone to go to hell for eternity. His wrath is a proper response to our sin and He is right in doing so. (John Piper, Adam Vinson, and a guy named Aaron Werner greatly helped me see sin in this way)
So why these thoughts? It is my own inability to see how serious sin is compared to the holiness of the Living God. Oh may the God of grace who gave His Son to live for me what I could never live, grant me the grace to see the weight of sin against the purity of His Holy character, and may He produce in me a river of joy that wells from my heart over the gospel of Jesus Christ which allows me to escape God's righteous separation from sin and allows me to enjoy everlasting fellowship with Him forever.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
God is so good to us and it is so important for us to be reminded of His grace and mercy because it is so necessary in our pursuit of our joy in Him. If we are seeking to worship Him by being satisfied in Him as John Piper would say, then being reminded of His grace and mercy is a great place to start in finding our joy in Him. It blows me away enough that He would love us while we were still sinners and choose to reconcile us to Himself through Christ. Yet, it blows me away even more that He continues to bless us by answering our prayers.
For me personally, I was reminded of His grace and mercy tonight by answered prayer. I know that God works all things together for His glory and the good of those who fear Him and walk according to His ways, but it sometimes still "surprises" me whenever He comes through for me in prayer. Have you ever felt that way? I mean, you ask for God to work a situation out in His timing and in the best way that would glorify Him, and then when He chooses to do it, it still comes across as a surprise. Have you ever felt that? I have, and I am pretty sure that "surprise" is not the correct and appropriate response to His choosing to move in our lives.
He answered a prayer tonight that I have been praying for the last three years, and He showed off when He did it! It was an absolute perfect and beautiful display of His power, sovereignty, grace, love, forgiveness, vindication, timing, and skill. Over this long period there have been times when I questioned His timing, and there have been times when I rested in His sovereignty. However, there have also been times I forgot I had been praying about it. However, He never forgot. I mean, wow! Three years? What an encouragement for other unanswered prayers in my life!
I hope that you can be encouraged to pray to the Everlasting all the while trusting that He will work out the situations and circumstances in your life for His glory and your joy. Can you grasp this? God worked out a situation in my life tonight that I could have never have imagined! Appropriately, this made Him look a million times more mighty (His glory), and it also produced an overflow of joy in my heart to honor Him for it and to tell others of His steadfast love (My joy and my good). "His glory and our good" is not a simple, catchy phrase. It is the very story of redemption, it is the every day miracles that we never see, and it is the delight of the Almighty. We have a very happy God who loves His own glory and loves glorifying Himself in ways which produce joy in His children.
Our joy is completed in Him when He glorifies Himself in our every day lives when we are able to express that joy back to Him. In fact, the heart's expression of what His glory produces is what He is seeking (Jn. 4:23). He calls it worship. Whether it be joy (like right now for me) or brokenness (like 30 minutes ago), or silence, dancing, singing, etc., our response to His own glorification through His involvement in life (like answered prayer) and through the life of His Son illuminated in the Word is what brings Him honor. Beyond that, our expression completes our joy in Him by allowing us to delight in Him. You see, I am happy to be able to brag on my Father tonight, and I am overjoyed to admit my inability to pull off what He did for me! He is glorified, and I am happy.
So here are two thoughts I had tonight in response to the answered prayer:
A) I must have the correct attitude when God does answer our prayers. Worship is in vain if I am blown away at the Gifts and not the Giver. So many times (even tonight) it is so easy to be distracted by the obvious "effects" of God working and forget about the "Person" behind the work. It is He who answers prayers and it is He alone who is worthy to be praised. So, let me encourage you to express your heart to the person of God in light of the grace offered to us through His Son by the Holy Spirit when prayers are answered... not in answered prayer alone.
B) I also must be in His Word and must fight to be self controlled and sober-minded. Obedience does have an effect on answered prayer. 1 Peter 4:7 says: "The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers" (emphasis added). I know our salvation is found in no one else but Christ and nothing at all in and of ourselves, but our obedience to Christ does have an effect on our prayers being answered. So, let me also encourage you also to join me in putting off our old carnal flesh and seek the things that are above (Col. 3:1).
I hope this little blog has encouraged you to continue praying and to continue hoping. God will complete the work He has started in the lives of those who know His voice (Phil. 1:6). Be encouraged to pray without ceasing and then to express joy to God. Like Paul says in Philippians 4: "Rejoice (or be happy) in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
Worshipping with you,
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I say all of this just to say that a few days ago I noticed something particularly profound during a “lost lunch”. John and Adam were trying to figure out what team won the super-bowl in 2005 or 2006 and they simply could not remember. After a few minutes, Adam pointed out that it was a shame that he could not remember the team because those guys had worked so hard for the super-bowl title all that year. Everything that particular team had worked for (and all of the training that the team went through) was forgotten at our lunch table. I am sure that the triumphant football team enjoyed the few minutes of fame that they experienced after winning the super-bowl, but that victory obviously has had limited impact on the world because it was easily forgotten by two football fans. I couldn’t help but begin to think long and hard on this issue.
A few days later, I was talking to Sarah’s family about the different M. Night Shyamalan films. While we were casually discussing the neat ideas of the movie “Signs”, the plot of “The Village”, and some aspects of “Lady in the Water”, another similar situation occurred when we forgot about one of his first movies, “The Sixth Sense”. We started to talk about it, but then moved on. We looked over it quite quickly, wrote it off as old news rather easily, and moved on to another topic. I started thinking how it might make M. Night feel if he knew we had just passed over it like that. It was then that the thought hit me… Every ounce of energy that he put into “Signs”, and all of the hard work he put into “The Village”, all of the time he put into writing “Lady in the Water”, was for what purpose? What was the end result? Was it so I could forget about them? What about these movies changed the world? Or did it change at all? Was it worth it? Did it make him truly happy? Can he rest in peace? So many questions...However, it was worth thinking about.
Now, I am sure that all of the money that M. Night and the super-bowl winners brought in was enough to make them "happy" for a season, but we know it cannot make them happy forever. Because we only live once, I started thinking how important it is to choose what we give of ourselves to. What will matter at the end of time?
I was so encouraged when I started thinking on the verses in Galatians 6:8-10. It says:
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (ESV)
I was encouraged because Scripture promises that my works in Christ will not be forgotten because they are rooted in His works. In short, the LORD promises that if I sow to please the Spirit I will reap a harvest if I do not grow weary of doing good! Every ounce of energy I put forth (or sow) in Christ towards the advancement of His kingdom will one day produce a harvest! As an adopted son through Jesus, I do not have to fear ever expending myself for the sake of Christ and then finding myself at the end of my life wondering if my life had any lasting effect or if it mattered at all. I can rest in Christ.
After super-bowl winners have their parties, it is back to the training field for next year’s big game. When a hit movie breaks blockbuster, it is back to producing the next big movie! It’s a mean world out there and we have to compete, right? Well, the good news is that after Christ became a sacrifice for our sins once and for all, He sat down at the right hand of the Father! (Hebrews 10:11-15) There is no competing; there is no need to practice for next time or produce something new and catchy to entertain the world. In Christ, He has satisfied all of the demands of the law and imputed to us His own perfect record- one time. He won the big game, counted us as winners through His own perfect record, and no one can ever match it or take it away!
Can you grasp this truth? Because Christ has won the game, all of our good works in Him have celebration, reward, satisfaction, and joy already awaiting them in the harvest. It is impossible that we expend ourselves in the Spirit and possibly waste our efforts. Likewise, it is impossible for us to find out at the end of time, that it wasn't worth it. We have already won! We continue to play because He calls us to finish well while the clock is still counting down. He created the game, made the rules, played it perfectly, made us winners with Him, and invites us to the after party…which by the way, will never end! We just have to finish well. We must not grow weary of doing good. The clock is still counting, and we are in the final moments of the game...
Go back and read Galatians 6, and then read the book of Hebrews while you are at it!