Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Deeply Concerned Plea

Several of my friends posted a blog that deeply troubled me. This blog stirred up such a deep concern in my heart that I felt it necessary respond in a pleading way. If you haven't read this blog, the rest of this won't make sense. My blog is directed to my fellow Evangelical Bible believing Christians. If you do not fit this category, you may find this helpful, but it is not necessarily for you. There will be some controversial statements made in this post. Please don't read this in an attacking tone from someone looking to pick a fight. Please read this in the tone of a concerned brother, because I am very concerned.

There are so many issues to address that I am only going to address the most important one. Really this whole thing boils down to the sufficiency of scripture and whether or not the Bible is what it says it is. But even this topic of the reliability of scripture, in all of its importance, is not the topic I am going to address. I am going to talk about Jesus.

This is why the blog is so troubling to me. As soon as people start to say things like, "The Jesus I worship" or "My Jesus" what they are in fact doing is saying they believe in a different Jesus than someone else. In this instance the author is making a distinction between the Jesus he believes in as opposed to the Jesus Ken Ham believes in. This is a giant red flag. I cannot stress how important this issue is! Here is why:

2 Corinthians 11:1-6 "I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things." (emphasis mine)

Galatians 1:8 "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed."

Now, even though I could go into how Paul talks about Adam and Eve and the Serpent as historical fact (I do find it incredible how he mentions the beginning of the Bible as alongside people preaching a different Gospel and a different Jesus... hmmmm....) I will not expound on that, but talk about claims of who Jesus is. Just because people say they believe in Jesus does not mean they believe in the correct Jesus of the Bible. Mormans believe in a Jesus, Muslims believe in a Jesus, Jews believe in a Jesus, Jehovah's Witnesses believe in a Jesus, Christians believe in a Jesus, and the list goes on. But which one is the correct Jesus?

The key to understand here is that when we hear people talk about Jesus, we must look to scripture to see if this Jesus they are talking about is a Biblical Jesus. If we do not, then we may be deceived into believing a false Jesus and false Gospel.

This shows the importance of scripture and why I am so troubled with this blog. Scripture makes me look at the blog and see the author suggesting that he believes in a different Jesus than Ken Ham. The author actually admits he doesn't know the God that Ken Ham believes in. He states, "And so when Ken Ham and those of his ilk stand up and proclaim that Evolution and modern science is 'opposed to God', I am left to wonder which God he's talking about." He also states, "He is the God who I believe is behind all scientific discovery. But apparently, Ken's God is not."

This is a huge claim to make, because by scriptures standards, this is the difference between a true and false prophet. The author has just "accursed" (to use Biblical language) Ken Ham of preaching the wrong Gospel/Jesus. Let's look at the claims the author makes about who his Jesus is.

1. "The Jesus I worship doesn't offer me scientific explanations about the world around me." I am ok with this statement, but it comes with lots of assumptions about the other side. The Bible is not a science textbook (Ken Ham does not believe the Bible is a science textbook either) but the Bible does give explanations as to how things came to be. These two things are different. The Bible records the event, not the molecular formula's or chemistry behind creation.

2. "The Jesus I worship is the being which all things were created, seen and unseen." This is in agreement with Genesis 1 and 2 and also Colossians 1:16.

3. "He is the Lord of the sciences." Absolutely true! See verses above.

4. "He is the creator of the Evolutionary process." Well that's a big statement. I wish he used some sort of Biblical evidence for this. Here we come back to the sufficiency of scripture. Is the Bible what it says it is? This will be an extremely controversial statement. If evolution is true, then God is a liar, or at best He has deceived us. Why do I believe this? We have the Genesis account in Genesis 1 and 2. Genesis 5 talks about God creating man and gives a genealogy with lots of details about people lives. Is this truly history, or is God deceiving us? Then we have lots of scripture, and Paul and Jesus who cite back to the Genesis account as a historical happening (Matthew 19:4-6, 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 1 Corinthians 15:45, 2 Corinthians 11:1-6, 1 Timothy 2:13-14, Jude 1:14). We have the New Testament genealogy that goes back to Adam (Luke 3:23-38). We have lots of teachings about marriage from Jesus where he cites back to the creation account (Mark 10:6-8 is an example). The Holy Spirit through Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 "For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." Evolution says that death did not come through Adam, because for evolution to happen there needs to be death in the survival of the fittest and natural selection. This shows a fundamental understanding of the Gospel and Christ's work relating back to the creation account and the fall of mankind in Genesis 3. Belief in Evolution is to say that the Ten Commandments are wrong when they state in Exodus 20:11 that God created all things in six days. I could go on and list lots of scripture for all these points, but they are literally all over the Bible. I find it sad, and telling that the author never quotes a Bible verse to defend his points even though he apparently holds to the inspired view of scripture.

5. "My Jesus doesn't demand that I believe one theory or another about the origins of life." While this may be technically true, this is quite a loaded statement. This is basically saying, Jesus doesn't demand me to believe everything he says in order to be a Christian. Wouldn't we, as Bible believing Christians, want to believe everything the Bible says as trustworthy?

6. "My Jesus is more concerned with the content of our character and how we love each other than with our position on any scientific, political, or even theological issue." Well there we have it. This is the authors Gospel message. Jesus doesn't care about what you believe in, he just wants you to be a good person of character and love people. This is a gospel of works. Jesus is very concerned about what theological position people believe, in fact, it is the deciding factor between eternal life in Christ or eternal death apart from Christ. This statement the author makes is truly incredible. Jesus says in John 14:6 "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." This is Jesus caring about our theology.

If the Bible is truly the word of God, and God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), then the Bible is the highest authority. Science is not more authoritative than scripture! Science changes every day. Our understanding of lots of scientific things continually change, so it would be silly to put science in authority over scripture, especially if scripture is what it claims to be.

So hear my plea. Let us please be discerning about people saying things like "My God" and "My Jesus" when they talk. I am deeply concerned for this author's heart. I am deeply concerned about your heart, and my heart. In making this plea to you, I know I must also be on my guard to make sure the Jesus I believe in is the true Jesus of scripture. I love you and care for you.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Kneel

I have been married for just over a year now and many of my friends are getting engaged and getting married. This made me think about the proposal process. Why do men kneel when they propose? My goal in this is to set up a clear theological framework of what kneeling means in proposal and why we do it because, to be honest, the only reason why I knelt when I proposed was because that’s just what men do. I didn't think about what it meant, or what it should mean. Here are some thoughts.

Why do men kneel when they propose?

Here are not some reasons why men should kneel to propose:

·         We do not kneel out of worship (Matthew 4:10)
·         We do not kneel out of pride (1 Peter 5:5)
·         We do not kneel out of selfishness (James 3:16)
·         We do not kneel out of manipulation (Philippians 2:3)
·         We do not kneel because it looks good (1 Samuel 16:7)

Kneeling is very close to bowing. Men, we should not idolize our girlfriend, our fiancée, or our wife. We are to worship the one true God Jesus Christ. Our kneeling when we propose should not be an act of worship.

Kneeling to propose is seen as romantic. While being romantic can be a good thing, it can also be a thing people use in order to manipulate their spouse. Manipulation is not love. Manipulation is using someone to get what you want. This is hardly loving.

If what you are concerned about is the outside appearance of your relationship, then you are in for a rough marriage. Do not sugar coat your relationship by doing things the right way in front of people in order for them to believe your relationship is healthy. Live a godly relationship by the power and grace of Christ. It is for freedom Christ has set us free.

Here are some reasons why men should kneel to propose:

·         We kneel in service (1 Peter 4:10)
·         We kneel in leadership (1 Corinthians 11:3)
·         We kneel in headship (Ephesians 5:23)
·         We kneel in selflessness (Ephesians 5:25)
·         We kneel in humility (Colossians 3:12)
·         We kneel in love (Ephesians 5:28)
·         We kneel in tenderness (1 Peter 3:7)

The married man should always seek after the interests and needs of his wife above his own. He should be aware of how to best serve his wife, because this is being obedient to God. Jesus displayed a style of leadership that is service driven. He even washed the feet of his disciples, including Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

The Bible says the husband is the head of the household. But what does this mean? To love and serve his wife like Christ loves and serves the church, even to the point of death. Marriage is not about you, but about living to fulfill the needs of your spouse in order to be obedient and submissive to Christ.

The husband must be willing to admit he is wrong. The husband must be willing to say, “I’m sorry.” The husband must be willing to repent. Ultimately everything we do should come from a Gospel driven heart where we love the Lord and are obedient to him. This includes how we treat our wife.

The reason why behind the reasons why we kneel to propose:

·         We kneel in obedience (Philippians 2:10)

I kneel in obedience to the living God who has called me to a life of love and obedience. I kneel in obedience to Christ. My kneel in submission to Christ leads me to kneel in humble service to my wife.

"Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!" Psalm 95:6

Thursday, May 9, 2013

How Is God a Good Father?

In a matter of months I will become a Father! This has made me think a lot about what fatherhood is and what it should look like. The Bible calls God a Father and calls us his children. These are some observations I made about fatherhood based upon how my heavenly Father is a father to me.

A Father…

·         Gives grace and peace (Beginning of Paul’s letters)
·         Provides (1 Corinthians 8:6)
·         Protects by destroying evil (1 Corinthians 15:24)
·         Brings mercy and gives comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3)
·         Promises to be father, and won’t leave his wife or kids (2 Corinthians 6:18, Hebrews 13:5)
·         Is sacrificial (Galatians 1:4)
·         Takes responsibility for things that aren’t his fault (Romans 5:8)
·         Is willing to die for his wife and kids (Ephesians 5: , Romans 5:8)
·         Blesses with spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3)
·         Gives wisdom and knowledge of Christ (Ephesians 1:17)
·         Allows access into his life (Ephesians 2:18)
·         Commands respect (Ephesians 3:14)
·         Is someone to be thankful for (Ephesians 5:20)
·         Is loving and faithful (Ephesians 6:23, 1 John 3:1)
·         Exhorts and encourages his children in godliness (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12)
·         Directs his children in a correct way (1 Thessalonians 3:11)
·         Comforts and gives hope even while establishing his children (2 Thessalonians 2:16)
·         Disciplines in love (Hebrews 12:6-7)
·         Finds pleasure in giving good gifts (Luke 12:32 James 1:17)
·         Allows his children to fellowship with him (1 John 1:3)
·         Can be known by his children (1 John 2:13)
·         Can be abided in (1 John 2:24)
·         Is someone to be obeyed (2 John 1:4)
·         Does not condemn (Romans 8:1)
·         Lives the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
·         Loves his children (1 Corinthians 13:3-8)
·         Guards his children (1 Peter 1:5)
·         Is someone who should be imitated (Ephesians 5:1, 1 Peter 1:15)
·         Builds up his children (1 Peter 2:5)
·         Cares and listens to his children (1 Peter 5:7)
·         Restores, confirms, strengthens, and establishes his children  (1 Peter 5:10)
·         Is patient (2 Peter 3:9)
·         Speaks life giving words  (Genesis 1)
·         Speaks into the life of his children (Jonah 1:1, 1 Samuel 3:10, Acts 9:4)
·         Is forgiving (Psalm 86:5, Ephesians 4:22, Colossians 3:13)
·         Has a will for his children (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
·         Does not provoke his children to anger but disciplines and instructs in righteousness (Ephesians 6:4)
·         Keeps his promises (Joshua 21:45)
·         Restores his children gently (Galatians 6:1)
·         Corrects by exposing the sin of his children (Romans 4:15)
·         Gives good advice on how to live (Book of Proverbs)
·         Gives an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11)
·         Is there in time of need (Hebrews 4:16)

This list will continue to grow as I read and learn more about being a Father. Do you have any thoughts on how God has been a good Father to you?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Public Vows

Four months ago today Kenzie and I had the privilege of worshiping the Lord by making covenantal vows before both God and man. Marriage has been a blessing beyond what I can express. I am constantly reminded of the Bride of Christ, and how Christ pursued us to make us his Bride. It is a constant reminder to pursue my wife as Christ pursues the church.

Today I decided to come back and read the vows we made to each other four months ago. It is so easy to forget things in the past. It already feels like forever ago when we stood at our marriage ceremony. Marriage is a public event. Vows are made publicly. People come and celebrate from all over the place. I believe a reason vows are made publicly is so people can be held accountable to the vows they have made. Here are the vows we made to each other. May these be an encouragement to you, and may you help hold Kenzie and I accountable to our vows.

Kenzie, I love you, and I take you as my wedded wife for the purpose of glorifying God. For the purpose of seeking Christ and his kingdom above all things. For the purpose of declaring the gospel and making the name of Jesus Christ known. For the purpose of our sanctification. For the purpose of worship. And I promise to forsake my own needs in order to serve you with my life, even as Christ did for the church. I promise to be faithful, as Christ is faithful to the church. I promise that if the Lord blesses us with children, I will raise them in truth even as Christ has raised us in truth. I promise to hold to these vows no matter what trial we face on this earth.

Ben, I promise to continually strive to love Christ first, and you second. I take you as my husband for the purpose of glorifying the Lord, and seeking His kingdom above all things. I take you as my husband for the purpose of declaring the gospel and making the name of Jesus Christ known.  I promise to daily forsake my own needs and serve you with my life. I promise to submit to you as the head of our family, as Christ is head of the church. I promise to forsake all others and be faithful to you, as the Lord is faithful to us. I promise to be your companion, and support you, even in the difficult times. I promise to hold you accountable, and speak to you with respect and love. I promise if the Lord gives us children, that I will train them in the truth. I promise to hold these vows, no matter what, so that the Lord might be honored and glorified through us.  

I love you babe!

Revelation 19:7

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christians and Gun Control

The tragedy in Connecticut is obscene and horrendous. No parent should ever have to bury a child, especially a young child, especially a murdered child. This revolting and horrifying event is heartbreaking.  Our prayers and condolences go out to the families and people involved in this terrible situation.

Amidst this tragedy, a political discussion has been pulled to the surface… again. Should the government ban guns? Should more people be armed and have guns? These are the two big questions being discussed. To be honest, I don’t know which of the two options is best (No one really knows because no one knows the future). But in saying this, I do know gun control is not the answer to prevent murder.

The first murder in history is recorded in Genesis 4. Cain is angry and jealous of his brother Abel and he murders him. The root issue with this first murder is the same issue at work in murderers today. They are sinful people. Sin is the issue here, not guns, not knives, not fists. Murder happens because people are sinful and are in desperate need of a Savior.

Gun control is not the answer, Jesus is.

The only way to eliminate sin is through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Guns, laws, and governments do not bring victory over sin. Christ alone gives victory over sin.

I am not convinced the topic of gun control is the best topic to be discussing right now among our Christian brothers and sisters. I have seen political debate over non-gospel issues divide people in the church. Emotional issues like this have the tendency to cause anger against our Christian family when different views are expressed. The ironic thing is that when we get angry and insult each other, we are committing just as serious a sin as murder.

Jesus says in Matthew 5:21-22 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire.”

If you have gotten angry or insulted a brother in Christ over their political view on gun control (or any political view for that matter), then you are just as liable to death and hell as the murderer of the children in Connecticut.

Jesus is the answer to sin and death. Maybe we should be more focused on how to reach more people with the good news of Jesus Christ. Maybe we should be more focused on pursuing people out of love, and telling them that they no longer need to be slaves of sin.

Jesus has the power to defeat sin and death. Let’s be unified and spread the hope we have in Jesus Christ our Lord, Savior, and God.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

To the Christian Voter

Some questions to consider.

If you voted for Obama, are you more excited to see him reelected than seeing someone come to Christ?

If you voted for Romney, are you more grieved to see Obama reelected than you’re grieved of every person who dies without knowing Christ?

Let’s be involved in our political process within the United States of America without making it an idol. Let’s also keep things in perspective. We should much rather see the salvation of many souls than a certain candidate voted into political office.

Friday, October 26, 2012


I am no musician, but I do have some understanding of what an amplifier is and what it does. The amp takes the sound of the guitar and makes it louder, clearer, and more noticeable. Some noises may not have been noticeable without the amp (even though they were still there) but are now expressed at a larger volume because of the amp. Other noises were very noticeable without the amp are made even more obvious and clear with the amp.

After two months and a few days of marriage I have learned that marriage is an amplifier. Our marriage has made my sin louder, clearer, and more noticeable. Some sin that was not as noticeable before marriage (even though it was still there) has become very noticeable. The selfish and self-centered heart I had before married life has become more evident in light of marriage.

I believe this is a good thing. It leaves me with two possible forms of action.

1.       Keep and revel in my sin and serve myself.
2.       Confess and repent of my sin and serve my wife.

Let me propose it would be best to take the second option instead of the first. Marriage creates opportunities for repentance. Marriage forces you to keep your sin, or confront your sin. Sin will be exposed in a godly marriage, but there will also be repentance. If sin is not being exposed in a marriage that is evidence the marriage is not centered on Christ.

Marriage being an amplifier is a very good thing not only because it makes obvious the sin I need to repent, but also because it amplifies my strengths and godly desires. Marriage has amplified my desire to follow Christ and make his name great. Marriage is a daily reminder of the Gospel. Marriage is a daily reminder to be like Christ. Marriage is a daily reminder that I am the bride of Christ.

                Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. Luke 3:8 ESV

Monday, September 10, 2012

Uneducated vs. Educated

I am considering seminary for a number of reasons. I want to further my understanding of the scriptures, receive insightful teaching, build strong relationships, meet older and wiser teachers, and gain a degree in some Biblical area that may help in a future ministry position. With thoughts of seminary in my mind, I am continually drawn to the importance of simply “being with Jesus.”

Acts 4:13 says, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

Peter and John had just healed a man and preached the gospel to a large group of people. Peter called the people to repentance, and quoted two references from the scriptures (Deuteronomy 18:18-19 and Genesis 22:18). They were arrested and thrown into jail. The next day they came before the High Priest and the high-priestly family, the elders, scribes, and rulers. These uneducated men were questioned by the most educated people. I assure you that their answers would be analyzed. Peter responds by speaking of Jesus and quoting more scripture (Psalm 118:22).

They spoke confidently and boldly to the people who were educated. And here lies the interesting point. Ironically, it was the “uneducated” who were correct in understanding the scriptures and the “educated” who were misguided in their understanding of the scriptures.

Being with Jesus is better than education.

I would rather be “uneducated” and Christ centered than “educated” and self centered. I would rather be “uneducated” and bold than “educated” and judgmental. I would rather be “uneducated” and humble than “educated” and proud.

Please hear what I am saying. I am not saying education is bad or discouraging it.

I am simply saying that being with Christ is the best education there is. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fear & Tremble

Why is “fear and trembling” important to the Christian walk?

Being a Christian is a change of identity. We are made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:5). We are completely new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our mind changes to the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). Our diet changes (John 6:54-58). The purpose of our body changes (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Everything changes! What does this have to do with fear and trembling? Everything.

  • Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV)

Why does Paul say we should fear and tremble while “working out our own salvation?” Paul is calling believers to understand who we are and what has happened to us in Christ. Paul says, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Let’s think about this for a second. Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth, who spoke creation into existence, this God works in me! When I will to be in accordance with the will of God, and then work in response, it is not I, but Almighty God. I no longer live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20). Is that not something that merits fear and trembling? The very fact that God is who works in me to will and work for his own good pleasure is an incredibly awesome and terrifying fact! But it is a fact to rejoice in!  

  • If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11 ESV)

If you have been saved by grace through faith, Almighty God dwells inside you! Inside you! Communion is a great symbol of this. When we eat the bread and drink the cup we are proclaiming the death of Christ until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:26). When we eat the bread and drink the cup they literally go inside our body and we become one literally. Our body breaks down the nutrients and uses it for energy to live and work. Just as we literally take in the bread and cup into our body, so God literally dwells in us and works in us. If this is not worthy of fear and trembling, then I don’t know what is. Fear and trembling come out of an understanding of who we are in Christ. May we all come to a fuller understanding of our Identity in Christ.

  • Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:54-58 ESV)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Ultimate Goal

Preaching, teaching, and having theological discussion are all very important and should be valued. However, there are some serious questions we must ask ourselves when we are involved in preaching, teaching, or discussion. Here is one question to ask yourself that will then expose what the true motive of your heart is when engaging in any of these activities.

·         What is my ultimate goal in this?

Depending on how this question is answered, a few more questions may be helpful in exposing an idol in the heart.

·         What about this activity brings me the most joy?
·         Do I care if I look smart?
·         Do I want to prove people wrong to win the argument?
·         Am I inwardly hoping to hear feedback about how excellent my message was?

The ultimate goal of preaching, teaching, and theological discussion should be to point people towards Christ. If pointing people towards Christ is not foremost on our mind, then we need a serious heart check.  

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Gospel is not a Challenge

The Gospel is not a challenge, and it was never meant to be a challenge.

Using rhetoric like “challenge” induces the listener to feel as if they need to rise up and meet a certain standard. This is not the Gospel. The Gospel is not about us rising up to meet a standard or gain success. The Gospel has never been about challenging people to succeed in an area such as reading the Bible, Bible memorization, going to church, praying, daily devotions, or any other spiritual discipline. The Gospel is about Jesus reaching the highest standard, which is sinless perfection, and giving that righteousness to us free of charge. 

To use rhetoric like “challenge” is to move away from the Gospel. The Gospel has never been about my own work and success, but the work of Christ in my place.  The Gospel is an invitation to be saved because Christ has done everything, and I have done nothing.

The Gospel is an invitation, not a challenge.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Science of Eternity

I am convinced that all peoples in all times and cultures have longed to live forever. This desire to live forever has manifested in a variety of ways during the course of human history. Some examples are the search to find elixirs, the fountain of youth, medication, heart transplants, and religion. In all these things, the main desire is the same, to live forever.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

Eternity is in our hearts. We desire it. We want it. We search for it, but in all the wrong places. John Mark Mcmillan sings, “Everybody is driven for a fountain of youth, but sometimes in these fountains they drown” in the song “Chemicals” from his album Economy.

In recent American culture I believe the desire to live forever has manifested in the environmental movement. Let me explain. I graduated with a bachelor degree in Environmental science. During my Junior year I came to a new understanding of what Environmental science really is at its root. Environmental science is the science of sustainability. Environmental science is all about making things last. This is seen in the movement to protect natural resources from abuse, and the desire to find clean sustainable energy. Whatever is sustainable will ultimately last forever because it will never run out. Environmental science is the science of eternity.

It hit me that I was getting a degree in the science of eternity, and Jesus is the only one who truly grants eternal sustainability in that he freely gives eternal life in himself! Jesus gives living water that quenches eternal thirst (John 4:10-14) but many people are focused upon physical water that won’t quench our desire for eternity. I believe the massive environmental movement is simply a sign that the field is ripe for harvest. Be encouraged! People are seeking after eternity! They are just looking in the wrong place. I pray that we may be faithful ambassadors and disciples of Christ during this time of harvest.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Quickness (Another nugget from pre-marital counseling)

Applying the Gospel to marriage is essential. After all, marriage is supposed to be like the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5). Without the Gospel there would be no relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 2).

I want to focus on two things the Gospel allows in marriage.

The Gospel allows you and your spouse to quickly confess sin. This is made possible because God has already forgiven that sin through Christ. Sin that hasn’t been confessed will fester and boil over into more sin and conflict in the marriage. Living in the grace we are given in the Gospel allows speedy confession.

The Gospel allows you and your spouse to quickly forgive each other of sin. We know the Lord has forgiven us and our spouse in Christ. Who am I to withhold forgiveness if the God of the universe is able to forgive?

Be quick to confess. Be quick to forgive.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Blaming the Battlefield for the Battle

A lesson learned while in the midst of premarital counseling, reading, and studying about marriage before our upcoming marriage.

There is no such thing as “marriage problems” but there is such thing as sin problems.

To say one has marriage problems is to blame the battlefield for the battle, which is illogical. It is not the grassy knoll that has a problem, but the issue resides between the two sides which are waging war.

Marriage is the battlefield; the war with sin is the battle. And this battle with sin is fought within you!

Galatians 5:17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

The war is not with my spouse, but with sin.

Don’t blame circumstances for your behavior, and don’t use circumstances to justify your behavior. Be humble and look for the sin in your own life that needs to be repented of, and repent. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Character of Satan

On my previous post I asked some questions about joking around with friends. After thinking through the subject for a little longer I have come to a partial conclusion on the matter. The most influential verse I looked at in contemplating the issue of joking with friends is Proverbs 26:18-19 which says, “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, "I am only joking!"

Deceiving someone for the purpose of a laugh is an act of conformity to the character of Satan.

The madman described in the verse above is described as throwing “firebrands, arrows, and death” and this person also “deceives.” Do you know who else is described as throwing “flaming darts” and being a deceiver? That's right, Satan.

Ephesians 6:16 “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;”

John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Revelation 12:9 “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”

Proverbs 8:35-36 “For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death.”

If I engage in deceiving someone, I am putting on the character of Satan instead of putting on the character of Christ.

We are commanded in scripture to put on our new self (Ephesians 4:20-24). I am not saying that we cannot joke around with friends and have a laugh. I am saying there are ways to joke around without deceiving someone. We should be careful about getting used to deceiving people for the purpose of a laugh because will become comfortable with embodying a characteristic of Satan. Let us be faithful ambassadors of the character of Christ, and may we continue to search the scriptures and remain faithful.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

More of a Question Than an Answer

When it comes to joking around, what is ok? Where is the line of sinful joking and having fun with your friends? Is there a line at all? Is it ok to laugh at a friend who trips and falls down(laughing at the expense of others)? Is it ok to play a prank on a friend? These are just a few questions I am pondering and I don’t have a good answer for them.

Proverbs 26:18-19 says, “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!”

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I am not a sinner saved by grace

 “I am a sinner saved by grace.” Have you ever heard that phrase before? I certainly have. I’ve even said it myself. I have come to the conclusion that this is a theologically incorrect statement, and it is actually detrimental for the believer to believe this. How could I say such a thing? Aren’t we saved by grace? And if we are saved, then we were saved from our sinfulness, right? Yes. Then what’s the big deal?

When people say this phrase, they use it as a way to describe themselves. Let’s look at the first two words. “I am.” These words “I am” are a prerequisite for a statement of identity. The next two words are “a sinner.” This is a profound statement of identity. “I am a sinner.” Let me make this as loud and as clear as possible.

If you are a born again Christian, your identity is no longer in your sin. Your identity is in Christ!

You have been bought by the blood of Christ and have been made alive in him (1 Corinthians 6:20, Ephesians 2:5). You are a child of God (John 1:12). You are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). You are the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). You have been set free from the slavery of sin (Galatians 5:1, Romans 6:18).

Why is this phrase a big deal? It’s a big deal because I am no longer a sinner; I have been made a saint. I am no longer enslaved to worldly desires, but have been given the mind of Christ. I am no longer dead, I am alive. My sin does not define me, Christ does! In the New Testament, the word “saint” or “saints” is used to describe the believing person, not the word “sinner.” So why do we use the word “sinner” to describe ourselves? Maybe it’s because we see the sin in our life and we cower in defeat rather than go to war.

We decide to identify ourselves with our sin rather than identify ourselves with our Savior.

Please do not hear me wrong. I am not saying that a believing Christian will never sin. I am saying it is wrong to identify ourselves in our sin rather than identify ourselves with Christ.

This is why the phrase is detrimental to a believer. If I see the word “sinner” and think to myself, “This is who I am” then I will be complacent in my sin rather than live in the grace of Christ who has set me free from sin. We do have victory (1 Corinthians 15:57). We do have freedom! We have everything we need to live a life of godliness (2 Peter 1:3). We must fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) rather than fixing our eyes on sin.

When we say we are a sinner, we refute the gospel as if the cross of Christ hasn't made us righteous.

I am not saying I am without sin (1 John 1:10), I am saying my identity is no longer in my sin.

Christ came to save sinners.

·         Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Christ died for sinners in order to make them righteous. 

·         Romans 5:17 “For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”

·         Romans 5:19 “For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.

Maybe a more theologically correct way to say this phrase would be, “I was a sinner saved by grace.” But now I have been made into a saint! I have been graced with the imputed righteousness of Christ and have a holy standing before Almighty God because of the blood of Jesus!

Are there any other common phrases we use in the church that are not theologically sound?

I have made some pretty strong points. For those of you who are older and wiser than me and disagree, please let me know. If you disagree, show me scripture to support your thoughts, and we can have a good discussion.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Buried Staircase

Walking along the front of my yard, with the lake to my right and a modestly sized hill on my left, I noticed a rusted and weathered handrail which was attempting to hide itself among the foliage of the hillside. I had not noticed this railing before, and I approached for closer inspection. I took my left hand and placed it upon the worn metal and began to walk up the hill making sure to place my steps carefully to avoid the poison ivy which had found fertile soil to take root. The earth beneath my feet displayed no evidence of a staircase, but after further effort and scrutiny I found a faint glimpse of cement after digging the toe of my tennis shoes down into the matted leaves and soil while kicking aside the debris. The cumulative absence of work and care over the years had rendered the staircase not only invisible and buried beneath the earth, but also left it unemployed from its previous usefulness.

This is what struck me most. The previously useful staircase was now unnoticeable and was even the fertile ground for the repelling plant, poison ivy. The staircase which used to be the direct route from the top of the hill to the lakefront had not only melted into the hillside, but also drove people away because of the vile plants it grew upon its path.

We are told in scripture to be alert and sober-minded (1 Peter 1:15). To always be on guard against the enemy. The enemy wants to make us useless in furthering the kingdom of God. And not only does he want to make us useless, but he wants to keep the unsaved from being in contact with us. He desires that we would become fertile ground for worldly behavior and desires to grow that keep the unsaved away. He wants us to become a part of the world, and to fit in rather than being someone who lives a holy life. And not only that, but just as the staircase was buried under the earth, so Satan wants to put us in a grave under the earth.

·         John 10:10a The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

·         1 Peter 5:8b Be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring ion, seeking someone to devour.

But within this battle, we can take be encouraged. For the battle is the Lords! The Lord will not give up on you. He will never leave you or forsake you.

·         Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

·         1 John 5:4 “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - - our faith.”

·         2 Peter 1:3-4 “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

The buried staircase was a sobering reminder of the work I must put into my relationship with God. Not that I am saved by works, for we are saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8) But that I must not become complacent in my faith and forget to guard myself from the little bits of dirt and weeds that can be present in my life.

Lord, help us to be diligent in the pursuit of godliness and sanctification, that we would not become invisible to the world, but that we would be visible and have a Christ-like influence. I pray that we would not fit in with the world around us, but that we would live a holy life by the grace that God gives us. I pray that we would not be useless in the furthering of the kingdom of Christ.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Power in Christ

These are just some verses of encouragement. God is Almighty and All-powerful. God works within us with his own power, so we need not rely on our own strength, for the Lord is with us.

·         Ephesians 1:16-23 “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

·         Colossians 2:12 “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”

The same power that brought Christ from the dead is working in us who believe.

·         Ephesians 3:7 “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power.”

We are given grace and are able to follow through with our calling because of the working of his power.

·         Philippians 3:20-21 “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

·         Colossians 1:29 “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”

Living for the Lord can be a struggle and hard work, but God gives us energy and is able to powerfully work in us.

Be encouraged. The Lord is powerful, and he is powerful enough to work in you and through you.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Finishing Well

Today is Good Friday. I have been thinking about how Jesus finished well. Good Friday would not be Good Friday if Jesus decided to slack off and not finish what he started. I believe this is a temptation many of us face. The temptation is simple. Not honoring the Lord at the end of something in the same way as the beginning.

I believe this is a temptation Jesus faced. After all, he was tempted in every way as we are, and was without sin. Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

I take “every way” as literally meaning “every way.” I believe that in the garden Jesus was being tempted to not finish well. Jesus prayed a prayer three times in a row while in the garden. What was the prayer?

Matthew 26:39 “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

This prayer shows the humanity of Christ. Jesus lived a solid 33 years or so without sinning and doing everything within the will of the Father. That is incredible! But without the cross and the resurrection there would be no Good Friday, there would be no redemption, there would be no regeneration, there would be no sanctification, there would be no salvation, and there would be no hope. All of this is because Jesus finished well. He set out to accomplish a task to bring glory to God, and he finished it in the same way he started, by honoring God above all things. In fact, the last words of Christ before he died were,

John 19:30 “It is finished.”

Today I am thanking Jesus for finishing well, and I am praying that I will learn from his example and finish things in my life well.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Sign of a Healthy Relationship

I am in the last days of singleness and am preparing for a life of marriage. God has blessed me with a godly woman who is absolutely gorgeous! I am blessed beyond what I deserve! I started thinking about an important question when it comes to a dating, courting, engagement, or marriage relationship. How do you know if your relationship is spiritually healthy?

Something I have experienced in my relationship with my fiancée is that more of my sin has been exposed and brought into view. Why is this good and healthy? Being in a relationship where each of you expose sin in each other’s life is healthy because it means the focus of the relationship is on being obedient to Jesus Christ and living more like Christ. If a relationship does not expose any sin, then I would question whether the relationship is founded on Jesus Christ. Being in a relationship with Jesus Christ has made me holy and righteous in the sight of God. If marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church, then my relationship with my fiancée should be a catalyst for our sanctification.

A sign of a healthy and godly relationship is that sin is exposed, repented of, and both people live more holy and righteous because of the influence of Jesus.

2 Corinthians 7:1 “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”

Friday, March 16, 2012

How serious is sin?

How seriously do we take our sin? I know I have lived my life not taking my sin seriously enough. Why is this? Where did this begin? God makes a clear command in Genesis 2:16-17:

“And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

The command is as clear as it gets. Do not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, if you do you will die. The treasonous act of sin deserves the justice of God. This is the clear message throughout the scriptures.

What happens when Adam and Eve eat the fruit? Many people say that Adam and Eve died spiritually. I would agree with this, but why didn’t they die physically as well? Adam and Eve deserved not just spiritual death, but physical death. The very fact that Adam and Eve were physically alive the moment after they sinned was an act of grace and mercy of God. This is where the beginning of my problem began. The problem of taking the grace of God for granted.

I contend that just about everyone on earth, including myself, have normalized the grace of God in our lives. This is why so many people believe they should live a long and healthy “normal” life. This belief is wrong, instead we deserve to be struck down dead after each individual sin. In Jonathan Edwards’s sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God he states, “There is nothing that keeps wicked men, at any one moment, out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.” So why do we not take our sin seriously enough? We have become used to the grace of God in our lives. It is seen as normal to still be alive after telling a lie, having a lustful thought, having a prideful attitude, or any other host of sins. We don’t see the grace of God as something miraculous and wonderful; we simply don’t see it at all because we expect to live after sinning just as we always have. God’s grace has become so normal to us that we actually expect to live, and not only that, we believe we deserve a nice life! This can’t be farther from the truth. What we really deserve is instant justice after each and every sin.

The Old Testament has many accounts of God deciding to act out in justice over people. Numerous times in the Bible God acts justly to whole cities, nations, families, and individual people by destroying them. Many people look at God in the Old Testament as a non-loving and angry God. The truth is that the cities, nations, families, and individual people who God brought justice to deserved the death they received. Also, the people who did not get swallowed up by the ground or get burnt to death by fire from heaven deserved the same act of justice because they themselves were sinners. God decided to show them grace.

Why does God take sin so seriously? Sin is an act of submission to Satan. Every opportunity in life is an opportunity for worship. We can either worship the Lord, or disobey him, and in disobeying him we worship a false god, which is the worship of Satan. Sin is an attack on God’s character. It is to say to God, “I don’t believe that what you offer and say is true. So instead of being obedient to you, I will listen to myself and be obedient to me.” Sin is to call God a liar.

Thankfully God was abundantly gracious and provided a way for us to be restored back to Himself. Praise be to God who is willing to be gracious, merciful, and forgiving. I pray that I will no longer take the grace of God for granted. I pray that I will take my sin seriously. My sin and your sin are so serious that Jesus died to pay the penalty for it. May I never lose sight of the grace of God, and may I never lose appreciation for the finished work of Jesus on the cross.