Saturday, March 13, 2010


"Following God may lead you into circumstances that are worse than what you have now."

How does that statement honestly make you feel? It doesn't take much Bible reading to know that statement is true without a doubt. But how do you feel about that truth when it is applied to your own life? Does it clash with where you want your life to go? Does it cause conflicts with your priorities?

The Constitution speaks to everyone having the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, for those of us in America, and many other places in the world, the pursuit of happiness has taken precedent. We really just want our lives to be...better...don't we? The question than becomes, how do we define better?

The American culture defines better as moving up the socioeconomic ladder. You know you are doing better in life if your standard of living is increasing, if you have more stuff, if you are living more comfortably. That is called progress. The problem is that Christians get caught up in that same game even if it is on a more subtle level. And for's the furthest thing from progress. "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ." (Philippians 3:7)

This sentence comes from "The Myth of a Christian Religion" - "The paradox of God's Kingdom - and it applies to all of life - is that the best thing we can do for ourselves is to decide NOT to live for ourselves." If you are a Christian this idea sounds familiar. "Whoever finds his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:39)

We hear those words and the accompanying sermon or devotional and we nod our heads in agreement. Yes, yes...wise words. Well said. Then we proceed to go back to what we were doing and thinking the way we always had. This idea is so counter-cultural, so revolutionary, so opposed to how we typically operate that we can't even find a place in our brains, let alone our lives, for it to fit. People don't typically want to change the way they have thought and lived for decades...even if deep down they know it's right.

Ask a Christian about their plans for retirement and it's probably not too terribly different than a non-Christian response. We want to relax, enjoy a hobby, take the well deserved break that we have earned, that we have been working for all these years. Sure, we will still go to church and do some ministry stuff. We aren't abandoning God. We just want to finally be able to do more of what we want.

I was watching John Piper speak to a Pastors Conference in Phoenix (thanks bro). He was noting that their job was likely harder than that of many other pastors around the country because they were receiving a lot of people who were moving there for retirement. Many of their parishioners would have the mindset that their work was done and it was "their time" now. That isn't exactly the soil in which "sold out disciples" grow, now is it? Piper implored them to teach people not to waste their last 20 or 30 years fishing or playing golf. Why retire in Phoenix when you can retire in Baghdad, Iraq? Seems like a ridiculous question, doesn't it? But why not ask it? If you are really for Christ than you aren't living for yourself, and your life, whether in the early, middle or later stages, belongs to Him fully. Running the race with perseverance. Paul knew we would need perseverance to finish strong. There was no exception given.

Borrowing from that same Piper talk, he referenced Hebrews 10:32-34. There was a situation where believers had been thrown in prison and other believers had a choice to make - visit them and risk their life, family and property or lay low, go underground and live another day. What did they do? They stood their ground "in a great contest in the face of suffering." They "sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of their property". JOYFULLY ACCEPTED?!? We don't even like it when someone takes our parking space! And truth be told, we own that parking space just as much as we own our house, clothing and possessions. Yes, this is the paradox of the Christian faith. If our life isn't really our own, than we should not hesitate to go TOWARD affliction, TOWARD persecution, TOWARD suffering. Everything around us tells us to go away from those things and the human logic of that message, along with its convenience, is ever so enticing.

Tough teaching. Believe me, I know. I am not a big possessions guy but I do like my comfort. And I do like it sometimes at the expense of being open to asking God what He would have me do that would potentially detract from my pursuit of comfort.

Here is the good news and why we still have a chance to truly learn this and make it an integral part of our life here on earth. Why were the believers willing to sacrifice everything they had just to visit their brothers and sisters in prison? "Because you know that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions." We know in our heart of hearts that this isn't our home. We know that our treasure lies in heaven. Romans 8:18 - "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."

Perhaps even better is verse 17 where Paul informs us that the children of God are heirs with You know what that means? It means it is so incredibly ridiculous that we are one bit concerned with carving out our small piece of this world because...WE ARE GOING TO GET THE WHOLE THING!

It's just a matter of time.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Challenging Week

Battled a tough cold all week. Plus, whenever I would lay down to try and rest or sleep, I would start coughing and have to sit up and drink something to get it to stop. Then the cycle would repeat. It reminded me of being a kid with the nightly coughing fits and heading down to the kitchen for some 7-UP. Actually, I don't think I have had 7-UP since I was a kid, but I digress...

So I got an average of about 3 hours a sleep until last night when the Lord allowed a solid 7 1/2. Needless to say, I am a bit tired at the moment and will be calling it a night after NUMB3RS. It's not a repeat. Sweet.

But I was proud of myself this week. In the midst of that tough physical and mental background, I went to work every day, was fairly productive and made some money in my personal account. In fact, I was almost up 10% on the week. I always find that success in the face of adversity leads to satisfaction. It's kinda like going for a run only to find that the body isn't willing but yet you find a way to power through and do it in a whole-hearted manner. Those are great character building moments.

I tend to expect a lot from myself. It's nice when I can feel good about giving myself a pat on the back.

Good Keller Thoughts Today

I don't think there is another passage from which I have heard more teaching or read more devotionals. But Bill had a couple good lessons from Ephesians 6 today that I don't remember reading or hearing. It might just be that my brain is tired from a long week but I think they are worth jotting down.

"12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication."


Also, the child of God only has ONE offensive weapon. The sword, God's Word! The Bible says, "It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even to the dividing of soul and sprit, joints and marrow." It is the only weapon the child of God needs. There is AUTHORITY in the Word of God. There is POWER in the Word of God. When Jesus was confronted by satan He did't have a conversations with him, He QUOTED THE WORD OF GOD TO HIM! That is why there is nothing more needed to lead the lost to faith in Christ than God's Word. The Gospel "is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes!"

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Comedy Break

Why so serious? This is one of the funniest SNL opening monologues I have ever seen.