Friday, November 26, 2010

Life Well Spent

I have heard it said there is a story inside
Begging to be set free out of need and not pride
To give voice to the struggle that one must endure
In order to stand in what is right and pure
But now I think that story is more than a word
It is a life well spent that can best be heard
For to glorify God in all bears much fruit
In us and in those who witness our pursuit

"I want to be one of those rare Christians whose very presence
incites others to also be better Christians." A.W. Tozer

"The most powerful sermons are lived, not merely preached."
- Rick Warren

Counterfeit Gospels

From Pastor Tullian's blog...

In his book How People Change (co-authored with Tim Lane), Paul Tripp identifies seven counterfeit gospels– ways we try and “justify” or “save” ourselves apart from the gospel of grace. I found these unbelievably helpful. Which one (or two, or three) of these do you tend to gravitate towards?

Formalism. “I participate in the regular meetings and ministries of the church, so I feel like my life is under control. I’m always in church, but it really has little impact on my heart or on how I live. I may become judgmental and impatient with those who do not have the same commitment as I do.”

Legalism. “I live by the rules—rules I create for myself and rules I create for others. I feel good if I can keep my own rules, and I become arrogant and full of contempt when others don’t meet the standards I set for them. There is no joy in my life because there is no grace to be celebrated.”

Mysticism. “I am engaged in the incessant pursuit of an emotional experience with God. I live for the moments when I feel close to him, and I often struggle with discouragement when I don’t feel that way. I may change churches often, too, looking for one that will give me what I’m looking for.”

Activism. “I recognize the missional nature of Christianity and am passionately involved in fixing this broken world. But at the end of the day, my life is more of a defense of what’s right than a joyful pursuit of Christ.”

Biblicism. “I know my Bible inside and out, but I do not let it master me. I have reduced the gospel to a mastery of biblical content and theology, so I am intolerant and critical of those with lesser knowledge.”

Therapism. “I talk a lot about the hurting people in our congregation, and how Christ is the only answer for their hurt. Yet even without realizing it, I have made Christ more Therapist than Savior. I view hurt as a greater problem than sin—and I subtly shift my greatest need from my moral failure to my unmet needs.”

Social-ism. “The deep fellowship and friendships I find at church have become their own idol. The body of Christ has replaced Christ himself, and the gospel is reduced to a network of fulfilling Christian relationships.”

As I said a few months ago in one of my sermons, there are outside-the-church idols and there are inside-the-church idols. It’s the idols inside the church that ought to concern Christians most. It’s easier for Christians to identify worldly idols such as money, power, selfish ambition, sex, and so on. It’s the idols inside the church that we have a harder time identifying.

For instance, we know it’s wrong to bow to the god of power—but it’s also wrong to bow to the god of preferences. We know it’s wrong to worship immorality—but it’s also wrong to worship morality. We know it’s wrong to seek freedom by breaking the rules—but it’s also wrong to seek freedom by keeping them. We know God hates unrighteousness—but he also hates self-righteousness. We know crime is a sin—but so is control. If people outside the church try to save themselves by being bad; people inside the church try to save themselves by being good.

The good news of the gospel is that both inside and outside the church, there is only One Savior and Lord, namely Jesus. And he came, not to angrily strip away our freedom, but to affectionately strip away our slavery to lesser things so that we might become truly free!

Chandler Article

An excerpt:

During a break at his most recent visit to Baylor hospital, Chandler said, "At the end of the day, I don't believe God gave me this cancer, but I do believe he could have stopped it and didn't. ... God is not punishing me, but somehow, for my joy and his glory, he's let me endure this and walked me through."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Interesting Dream Last Night

I had a dream in which I was talking on the phone with my friend Brian and we were discussing spiritual matters. I was talking to him about the temptation to compartmentalize our relationship with God and keep it separate from the areas of our lives that we want to keep to ourselves. I was telling him how essential it is that God permeates and saturates everything we say and do because we belong to Him completely. I also distinctly remember telling me that I struggle with this quite often because I am, after all, selfish and a sinner.

Then he said something about how I shouldn't judge myself. So, then I continued on about the two types of we are called to admonish one another when we see a brother/sister in Christ on the wrong road and how God is the ultimate Judge when it comes to our eternal destination. I mentioned how many non-Christians like to use the verse "Do not judge, lest ye be judged" (yes, I was in King James mode apparently) in an attempt to be excused from any moral bounds when that isn't how the verse was intended. In the dream, my mom and dad were in the background nodding their approval at my words. It was nice to have their affirmation.

These types of dreams occur fairly often. I find it pretty cool that God gives me opportunities to practice discipling and witnessing while I am unconscious. Talk about a productive use of sleeping. Does anyone else have these kinds of dreams?

Comments can now be made on my blog if you care to answer there.

Blessed Thanksgiving

This is the first Thanksgiving that I have spent apart from my family. As we were just together a few weeks ago for my sister's wedding it was agreed upon that it would also serve as our celebration as we certainly had many things to be thankful for during that weekend. Given the inclement weather and my brother being in Chicago it appears for the best that we would reconvene as a family at Christmas.

It is also of benefit to me as I feel the need for time with God. I need this time of rest, reflection and meditation. This morning has already proven fruitful in those endeavors. As a cold rain (and now snow) falls outside, I am thankful for God's presence and His truths which have been expressed through Hank Hanegraaff and the beginning of Charles Spurgeon's autobiography.

"If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead." - Luke 16:31

My "Jewish" friends are never far from my thoughts. I put Jewish in quotes to indicate that while they have ancestral connections and engage in some of the customs, their belief in the Torah is anything but foundational. This verse reminded me of the night of the BBQ and the never ending skepticism that was thrown my way regarding God's truth. Truly, there is no amount of apologetics that I can present that will convince them to accept God's truth as absolute. Only an act of the very God in question will suffice. I do find that freeing...knowing that I am responsible only for sharing diligently...not for changing their hearts.

Charles Spurgeon recounts a story of a servant who asked his master to be allowed to leave his cottage and sleep over the stable. What was the matter with his cottage? "Why, sir, the nightingales all around the cottage make such a 'jug, jug, jug,' at night that I cannot bear them." A man with a musical ear would be charmer with the nightingales' song, but here was a man without a musical soul who found the sweetest notes a nuisance. This is a feeble image of the incapacity of unregenerate man for the enjoyments of the world to come, and as he is incapable of enjoying them, so is he incapable of longing for them.

Read that last sentence again. In our last Bible Study, Francis Chan asked us through "Crazy Love", "Why do so few people genuinely find joy and pleasure in their relationship with God?" What do you think?

If you don't love God you won't enjoy Him. If you don't enjoy God you won't desire Him.

"The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies Me." ~ Psalm 50:23

"If mans hunger proves he inhabits a world where food exists, my desire for Paradise is a good indication it exists." - C.S. Lewis

Monday, November 22, 2010

It Can Be So Subtle

The whole article can be found here and is worth reading...

There are other terrors that lurk in primetime slots of our national networks. Few Christians would openly defend viewing a show like Rock of Love, but who doesn’t get teary-eyed watching the final moments of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? Never mind that it’s a spinoff of a show about radical plastic surgery, EMHE pulls together a whole community to give a deserving family a new, grandiose home. Who could argue with that?

Which brings me to the three most disturbing words on television: “Move that bus.”

Again, there’s no arguing with the warmth and altruistic sentiments of the show. The families who have been profiled always seem to be wonderful people, I don’t impugn them or the show’s creators with secret evil intentions. But a disturbing thing happens in the final moments of the show. After profiling the family’s suffering, after talking about hardship and perseverance, after recruiting an army of volunteers, the family is brought in front of the new home, which is hidden from view by a large touring bus. They count down and call out those three words, and the reaction can only be described as worship. There are tears and shouting while people fall to their knees, hands raised in the air.

Here it is on bold display: the ultimate hope of most Americans. It’s as though a phantom voice is responding to their suffering with the words, Well done, good and faithful servant. Here is your reward: dreamy bedrooms, big-screen TVs, privacy fencing, and wireless internet. We watch. We weep. And we hope for ourselves. It’s yet another gospel alternative, this one packaged as a heart-warming vision of the way life is “supposed to be.”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Sin Isn't Very Original

Thinking about this today...

"At the heart of sin is the feeling that God's commands are a burden rather than a blessing."

"Could it be that his glory and our well-being really are part of the same script?"

The oldest lie is that we can become God...and that we deserve to be like God. All of us are susceptible to the desire of being our own God. But why? For me, I guess it's still a belief that I know myself better than anyone else so I know what is best for me better than anyone else. Obviously untrue since the Creator knows his creation intimately. However, maybe there is a sense that God isn't as familiar with me now as He was on the day I was born. A lot has happened...a lot has changed. Do I truly believe He has been paying attention every second along the way?

Maybe it's also a sense that I just don't need any more authority figures in my life. Look at all the people/institutions in our lives that give us direction which we must follow or face consequences. Parents, teachers, coaches, government, bosses, etc. I get to the point of just saying, "OK, enough. I got it. Let me do it." The prideful part of me has the same attitude as when I was 2. "Thanks but I can do it on my own. I don't want your help because I know I can handle it." A necessary attitude at points in our temporal life. A dangerous attitude at every point in our spiritual life.

The follow up to that is the thought that this is my life. Sheesh, I only get one life here so just let me live it Lord. You get me for eternity so can I please be in charge of this brief window of earthly existence? I mean...does it always have to be about YOU??? I fall into the trap of thinking that doing everything for the glory of God is somehow mutually exclusive to my happiness and fulfillment. It's the same lie that says obeying God's commands is going to rob me of the enjoyment of the things I really like doing on a daily basis. Nevermind the fact that God is much more interested in my ultimate joy than I am and that He knows infinitely better how to go about producing true joy and satisfaction in my life based on things that truly matter.

Adam and Eve fell for Satan's lie that becoming like God was justifiable and advantageous. We fall for the same lie every single day.

I still act like I'm 2.