Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A sleepy dog

This is just really funny.  We were watching a TV show and some how forgot our dog was waiting patiently to be thrown a toy.  We looked over and he was doing this sleepy eye, hypnotic look.   Luckily we got it again.. apparently he was very tired...... It is kinda dark but so funny.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Andrew Peterson

About this time last year, my sister in law posted the video below. I loved it and downloaded the song Labor of Love by Jill Phillips. This year, John surprised me with tickets to the concert. It was amazing! If it is near you, go and see it. I cried pretty much the entire time.

Tonight was also a great night because we decide to sponsor our second child! Whoo Hoo! John has a little boy named Roger through World Vision and tonight we chose a little girl named Mersi through Compassion International. I say it like "mercy" and can not wait to send her a letter or a Christmas gift!.
I was thinking as the concert went on how joyful she and her family will be when they her the news that she is being sponsored.  
I was not moved to tears to go and get a child out of guilt. I think I just understood it as an opportunity to use the finances we have been given to be obedient to Christ's command to serve the poor.  

Some other highlights:  We bought the the Behold the Lamb of God CD and we saw some good friends that had recently moved away.  

Such a fun night!  Enjoy the video.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Sustained by Sovereign Grace Forever

Jeremiah 32:36-41
36 “Now therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine, and by pestilence’:

37 Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety.

38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them.
40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.

41 I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.

+++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++

Grace does not prevent pain, but ordains it in the lives of believers and then sustains us through it.
  • If God can manage (and He certainly does) all of the things necessary to sustain through trials, He could certainly have prevented the trials from happening.
  • He doesn't prevent trials, though. These are meant to be opportunities to glory in the grace of the Cross of Christ.

In the passage, God brought the trials upon the Jews because of His wrath and anger; however, He then also provided the restorative and sustaining grace they would need to endure. Indeed they would not have endured without it!

  • Sustaining grace, in order to be capable of sustaining in all situations, must be sovereign. It must have more power than whatever situation it finds itself in, or it would fail to sustain.

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing v.3

"O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be! Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above."

Fetter = chain or shackle for the legs/feet. something that restrains.

  • If my heart was not bound/chained to the Lord by His grace, I would most certainly wander away from Him, because that's my very nature.
  • He must seal my heart and protect it from the attempts of this world to draw it away, otherwise I would have no hope. To think I somehow control my perseverance/desire for God is foolishness, and not supported by Scripture.

God is the primary agent acting on behalf of the Jews in this passage. He makes an everlasting covenant with them to not cease in doing them good. Though this promise is written for the Jews (and we must be very careful about taking promises made for someone else and claiming them as my own simply because they are good sound bites), I can still take comfort in this promise (the everlasting covenant) since I have been grafted into the children of Abraham as a believer (Romans 11:11-24). I have been inserted into the terms of this everlasting covenant.

  • In this passage, God does not stand idly to the side to see if the Jews will turn and fear the Lord. Instead, He places fear of Him in their hearts and makes them His own objects of mercy. Also, once this fear is present, He sustains it with grace, so they would not turn away.
  • This is still how He saves sinners. He does not stand aside (to be polite and not impose on my "free will") to see which way we will go, but rather He actively places the fear of Him into the hearts of those whom He chooses to demonstrate saving grace to, and then He sustains them with that same grace!

In the final verse of this passage, the Lord states that He will rejoice in doing good for those in whom He has placed the fear of Himself. What is the countenance of the Lord, in your mind? Here He is clearly a rejoicing, happy God. The good things that He does in the lives of His children, He does with all of His heart and His soul. Is it possible to even conceive of the intensity with which He sustains me and the magnitude to which He enjoys showing me good? God is infinite, so it follows that when He says He is giving all of His heart and all of His soul for my benefit, these must be equally infinite.

The grace of God is incredibly powerful and is definitely amazing. I don't know that I grasp the gravity of the word, "grace" when I use it or read it. It overcomes everything that would otherwise hinder me from knowing or being known by the Lord. I reflect on the fact that I rightly deserve hell, if judged by my merit, yet I'm bound by the grace of Christ, for eternity in His courts.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Clean on the Outside...

11 August 2007, Saturday

Clean on the Outside…

Matthew 23:25, 26 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

Many times, I feel like the accused in the above verse. I’m quite good at “playing” Christian, regarding my actions and words when in front of others. Inside, though, am I really any different? Often, it sure doesn’t feel like I’m different. When no one is looking, I indulge my flesh, my selfish thoughts, my unrighteous actions. I don’t conduct myself like one who is redeemed. The fruit of this behavior rots my quiet times spent trying to read the Word. I’m left with poor focus, or even worse, no time spent reading at all. I manage to “get by” from day to day, with little energy actually invested in a meaningful relationship with my Jesus. Do I struggle against this dying flesh? Often, the answer is, “no.” But the example provided me in the Bible is one that continues to persevere in obedience, despite any struggles I have with my corrupt flesh.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

I know the Lord is the Author and finisher, or sanctifier of my faith (Hebrews 12:2), so I find myself here because He has allowed me to be here. During this time of rocky faith, I am called to return to the Lord, in obedience, and to persevere, despite lacking feelings. Since I am one of His children, I can be certain that He will restore me and cause my faith to grow through this. I am not to be driven by my emotions, or lack of them when reading/praying. This is commonly how modern society has encouraged people to act, though, in direct opposition to God’s command.
++If it feels good, do it….
++Let your heart be your guide (Jeremiah 17:9 says my heart is deceitful and wicked, and then asks who can know it)
++Follow your gut instinct…
God never teaches me to be this way! No, during tough times, I am to draw nearer to the Lord, seek to be more dependent on Him, not less.

Matthew 12:34b For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

O Lord,
You are the Sovereign over all things. The resistance of my heart and my flesh is not stronger than your hand. Please break through my defenses and bring me to humble repentance before you. I undeservingly ask forgiveness for the hardness of my heart, the arrogance with which I stumble through my days, and for the casual manner in which I approach you. Please make me teachable and instruct me by your word in the way I should live. I believe it has all truth concerning profitable conduct before you, and I ask you to mesh the knowledge gained from it with your amazing grace in my life, that I would actually live the way you command everyone to.

Shield me from the constant attack on your word, offered by the world I live in. Instead of harboring doubts ignited by them, help me to seek out definitive answers in your word, and in other historical documents that serve as evidence on which to build a reasonable faith. Give me the ability to formulate logical, honest arguments that defend the reason for the hope I have in you, as you have called me.

Thank you for being bigger than every issue I face. Help me to remember this, and to quietly depend on you, instead of myself, for all provision. All of this I pray by the glorious grace of your perfect son. Amen.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Wisdom, Understanding, and Discretion

Wisdom, Understanding, and Discretion

Proverbs 2
1 My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you,
2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding;
3 yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding,
4 if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures,

5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
7 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
8 guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.

9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path;
10 for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
11 discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you,
12 delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech,
13 who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness,
14 who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil,
15 men whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways.

16 So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words,
17 who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God;
18 for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed;
19 none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life.

20 So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it,
22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.

Reading through this, I noticed a pattern I’d not noticed before. Buried within this proverb pertaining to the increase of wisdom was an, “if, then, so” statement.
If (the condition)
Then (the result)
So (the reason; the “so what”)

Reading through this section (v. 1-4), meditating on what these statements are really saying, I realize how: 1) how intentional my pursuit must be, and 2) how difficult the pursuit is. Intentional, because of how I must search for it as a hidden treasure. It is not easily found, and not accidentally stumbled upon. Wisdom, insight, and understanding are gifts of the Lord’s grace, and He chooses to impart these riches of His grace through man’s relentless pursuit of them, and through persistent crying out for them in prayer (James 1:5). I say this pursuit is difficult, not because they are difficult to obtain, for the Lord freely gives to those who ask in faith (James 1:6), but rather because it is difficult for me to ask in faith, without doubting. My pride prevents me from petitioning the Lord with a sincere heart. You see, most days I believe I am already wise, making it impossible for me to pray for something I am convinced I already have (Proverbs 3:7; Proverbs 12:15; Proverbs 26:12; Isaiah 5:21). My only recourse is to cry out to God continually to overcome my pride (as only He is able) and impart to me true wisdom; a wisdom vastly different from what the world calls wisdom. Indeed, it must be different than what this world calls wisdom (James 3:13-18)!

In v.5-15, I see the direct result of an increase in my wisdom. The foundation for all of this is a proper fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7). This fear is a reverent fear, not a cowering fear (concerned with punishment). It is a profoundly respectful fear. With this fear comes an increase in all of the things pertaining to right living, according to the Lord. The Lord is faithful to increase my understanding, righteousness, equity, and knowledge of the right path (which few find, by the way – Matthew 7:14). The rest that I find in the rich promises of God are only obtainable through the “if” portion of Proverbs 2, and this “if” condition is only met by God’s grace through faith. It may seem, on the surface, that I am espousing a view of works that merit grace, but read deeper and understand that I am not! Understanding that I am unable to perform any of these works, I cry out to God, knowing that it is only Him who works through me for His pleasure…it is His doing, not mine, not mine, not mine (Philippians 2:13,14)!

Who cares? So what? The nature of these things requires that I intentionally pursue them, and through great difficulty. Although I know God’s grace empowers me to obey in this pursuit, why would I be interested in that? God commands these things for my own good (Deuteronomy 10:13)! The “so what” is because He cares for me, and desires that I enter the rest only He provides! The Lord imputes righteousness to me, but He also commands me to conduct myself in obedience, in holiness, so I may join Him on His holy hill (Psalm 15). There is most certainly a command, a responsibility to obey; to believe otherwise is to believe in something other than the Gospel that Jesus taught.

How wonderful are the graces of the Lord! Thanks be to God that He chooses to pour them out on one such as myself. Knowing I am unable to will or to work for good apart from Him (John15:5), I cry out to Him for the accomplishment of the things that please Him. How incredible is the salvation He has designed? So simple and so effortless, yet paradoxically requiring my total surrender, my very life – His yoke being called “easy,” and His burden, “light,” and at the same time calling me to struggle, to persevere, to bear with burdens, to lay down my life.

True Christianity
Lord of Heaven,
Thy goodness is inexpressible and inconceivable.
In thy works of creation thou art almighty,
In the dispensations of providence all-wise,
In the gospel of grace all love,
And in thy Son thou hast provided for
our deliverance from the effects of sin,
the justification of our persons,
the sanctification of our natures,
the perseverance of our souls in the path of life.
Though exposed to the terrors of thy law,
we have a refuge from the storm;
Though compelled to cry, ‘Unclean’,
we have a fountain for sin;
Though creature-cells of emptiness
we have a fullness accessible to all,
and incapable of reduction.
Grant us always to know that to walk with Jesus
makes other interests a shadow and a dream.
Keep us from intermittent attention
to eternal things;
Save us from the delusion of those
who fail to go far in religion,
who are concerned but not converted,
who have another heart but not a new one,
who have light, zeal, confidence, but not Christ.
Let us judge our Christianity;
not only by our dependence upon Jesus,
but by our love to him,
our conformity to him,
our knowledge of him.
Give us a religion that is both real and progressive,
that holds on its way and grows stronger,
that lives and works in the Spirit,
that profits by every correction,
and is injured by no carnal indulgence.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

and now, a musical break...

While visiting one of my favorite websites Taylor Guitars, I stumbled upon this treat of a video, featuring Jason Mraz playing his song, "the Remedy." It is awesome! I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

the Wimpy Gospel

the Wimpy Gospel

When did our society transform the Gospel of Christ into such an impotent, non-life-changing message? “Ask Jesus into your heart”; “invite Christ into your life”; “accept Jesus as your personal Savior”; “make a decision for Christ.” They sound great, but are they biblical? The call of Christ is one of discipleship, a call to obedience, not merely a call to make a decision for, or to pray a prayer to Him. It is a call that demands repentance in the life of a sinner. This offer of amazing grace is tempered with warnings to those who lived outwardly religious lives, without an inward change associated with true righteousness (Matthew 7:13-23).

“Contemporary Christians have been conditioned to believe that because they recited a prayer, signed on a dotted line, walked an aisle, or had some other experience, they are saved and should never question their salvation. I have attended evangelism training seminars where counselors were taught to tell ‘converts’ that any doubt about their salvation is satanic and should be dismissed. It is a widely held misconception that anyone who questions whether he or she is saved is challenging the integrity of God’s Word.” [The Gospel According to Jesus, by John F. Macarthur, page 29]

Although the Bible calls believers to have confidence in their justification, many churches have distorted this exhortation, basing the confidence instead on the extra-biblical philosophies of man, noted in the above paragraph. This has led many to falsely trust in an eternal justification before God that simply is not there. After “signing the dotted line,” or “praying the sinner’s prayer” at the request of their pastor, they continue about their daily lives without evidence of a changed life. In their eyes, the offer of grace is viewed as an eternal insurance policy, rather than as an instrument intended to lead them to repentance (Romans 2:4). In writing all of this, I do not mean to imply that we cannot be certain of our salvation, because the Bible emphatically says, both directly and indirectly, that we can be, in numerous verses (Nehemiah 9:16-19; Psalm 31:23; Jeremiah 32:38-42; John 6:37-40; John 17:11; Ephesians 1:11-14; Philippians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5; 2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 10:14; 1 Peter 1:3-5).

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

Luke 6:44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.

1 John 3:10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

1 John 2:4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him…

“The Lord will not save those whom He cannot command. He will not divide His offices. You cannot believe on half-Christ. We take Him for what He is—the anointed Savior and Lord who is King of kings and Lord of all lords! He would not be Who He is if He saved us and called us and chose us without the understanding that He can also guide and control our lives.” [I Call it Heresy, by A.W. Tozer, pages 18-19].

Concerning the theology that attempts to separate salvation from discipleship, James Boice writes, “This [theology] is a common defect in times of prosperity. In days of hardship, particularly persecution, those who are in the process of becoming Christians count the cost of discipleship carefully before taking up the cross of the Nazarene. Preachers do not beguile them with false promises of an easy life or indulgence of sins. But in good times, the cost does not seem so high, and people take the name of Christ without undergoing the radical transformation of life that true conversion implies.” [Christ’s Call to Discipleship, page 14).

Ephesians 2:10 says that we were created for good works, which the Lord prepared beforehand. As part of the saving work that the Lord does within each true believer, He will produce: repentance, faith, sanctification, and obedience. Since the Lord is not dependent on humans to produce these fruits, any “salvation” experience that lacks them cannot be the saving work of God.