Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wow. John Owen

John Owen is usually pretty thick for me. I've made it through portions of a few of his books :)

Once in a while, he'll say something like this which is eternally profound:

Indeed, the great sin of believers is, that they make not use of Christ’s bounty as they ought to do; they do not every day take of him mercy in abundance. (Communion with God, pp. 239-40)



HT:Ray Ortlund

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Dash of Humility

It's funny I know. . . an old guy with enormous ears proclaims the end of the World. However, I'm not going to any parties tonight, or mocking these sincere folks who are misguided.

The bible is not a code to be cracked. . . Mr. Camping is a false teacher. . . if Jesus returns tonight it won't be because Mr. Camping was right about anything.

But, let's be a little humble and gracious towards these folks. Clear-minded? yes. But, let's let the comedians have a go at Mr. Camping. As Christians, let's pray and be kind to these folks.

I think the tone of this piece from Prof. Michael Horton is a good model for us.

I hope Jesus comes tonight. . . . if He doesn't, let's be humble and pray for all those who were deceived, their dissallusionment, and their return to Christ.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

No Earthly Good

When awful, unspeakable things happen. . . . when really good and right things/prayers go unanswered. . . . when things just aren't right. . . . I feel like a fish out of water many times.

At my worst, I'm impatient with those who struggle. I get frustrated with what seems like an effort to make/keep oneself miserable. And, I'll make it seem like I'm disaffected by the situation. I've definitely struggled big time in all 3 of those areas. I think God has really been working on me, and refining me as a pastor in those places. . .and hopefully I'm growing. Also, I can be prayerless at times. . and kind of function (even though I don't believe this) as a Deist. Like God is not interested in the small details of life. . . that we just need to shut up and get happy with our circumstances.

That's me sometimes. . It's wrong, I'm not proud of it.


When horrible things happen, and/or disappointment comes to our lives. . . . I really find it helpful to take a step back and look at the BIG picture. God is sovereign. Even the "hairs on our head" our numbered. He knows everything. He is working out HIS plan, not ours. We have no idea what the plan for the universe is, except the enormous truth that it's all going for HIS glory, and for HIS purposes. God "does not live in temples built by hands" the "depths of his wisdom" are unthinkable and sometimes unknowable to us. "Who has known the mind of the Lord", "Who has been his counselor"? He's got this. He's going to end it (we hope, soon). It's in His hands.

If that paragraph felt like a bunch of preaching to you, or that I was just "running to the bible", or that I'm not dealing with my feelings. . . . .Just know that I really believe that stuff. It affects me. It brings me peace. It helps me "not be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine" and "though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea" I stand on that stuff.

When we're talking about our wishes of God, there is a hard balance to strike between persistence in prayer and patience with God. Of course, we need both. This is a really helpful message from Mark Driscoll about the persistent widow. It's really helpful.

We should be persistent with God. We should make our desires and hearts known to Him. But, let us never say that "God did not answer my prayer". He did. He either answered, "yes, no, or later".

We have to be radically "un-tethered" from the results. We have to remember that God has got this. He's working HIS plan. Most of the time, in my experience, God's answer to my prayers has alot to do with changing my heart, and less to do with me affecting His actions.

If that seems like a cop out. . remember that "waiting on the Lord" should cause us to "rise up with wings like eagles" and "walk and not grow weary". I believe that. It affects me. Waiting, and releasing outcomes to God brings Faith and Strength.

And, mostly, and most helpfully. I really believe in Heaven. God is going to wrap all of this up in the right way, and we will be with him forever. The present sufferings of this world, the prayers not answered as we like, the tragedies, the sin, the disappointment "will not be able to be compared with the Glory that will be revealed in us". It will seem like small potatoes.

I believe that. It affects me. It affects the way I interact with hard times, disappointment, and evil in the World. It all has an expiration date. It's going to end. "Every tear" will be wiped away.

The tears of my parent's divorce, the tears of my dad's death, the tears of Malachi's abandonment and fear, the tears of marriage difficulties, the tears of tragedies. God will make "all things new". I really believe that.

The hope of Heaven is not a cop out, not something to make us "no earthly good", it's actually the dominant way Paul, in the New Testament, tried to give hope to the churches, and those struggling. Because "in the blink of an eye, we will be changed". Then, we'll say "death where is your victory, death where is your sting". Paul believed that, he preached that to people going through really, really hard times. I believe it too.

So, let us (me) be patient with those who struggle and grieve with those who grieve. . .shut up with the bible platitudes for a season while we hurt together. . .yes, yes, yes. Absolutely

Let us all, struggling or not, . . . . also "hold firmly to the faith we confess" because "He who promised is faithful", and "hope does not disappoint". Let us "hope in God". Let us "wait on the Lord". Let us "come to Him" for "He will give you rest".

Let's fight with these truths. Let's fight against discouragement, depression, and frustration with God. Really. . that's why HE wrote these words to us. To help us fight against those things.

I believe that. It affects me and the way I process times like these

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Good Word

Great post from Vitamin Z

For Moms, Former Moms, and Wannabe Moms

Single woman watching your biological clock tick away, I encourage you to look today at your longings through the lens of the gospel. You don’t have to deny your longing or talk yourself into a happy attitude for all the good things you can do without kids. It’s OK to mourn the loss. God said children are a blessing. But after the fall, we do not all get to experience that blessing. The gospel makes up the difference. While you are disappointed in deep ways and that disappointment is real, you will one day sit with Jesus in heaven profoundly content with His work in you through this disappointment. In heaven, you will have no longing for something you missed. You will not be disappointed. May confidence in that hope sustain you.

Married woman experiencing infertility, I encourage you with similar words. People can be callous with their words, especially in the church. But believe in confidence that God in this very moment loves you with a deep love. You may feel estranged from Him, knowing that He has the power to give you that sweet infant that He has given so many around you. It seems like He is dangling a desire in front of you, teasing you with it. But understand that unfulfilled desire is a tool He uses to give you even better things – things of Himself that you cannot know in easy ways. Believe in confidence that this time of waiting is not just a holding pattern with no discernible value, but it too is a blessing, albeit in disguise, as it increases your strength to run and not grow weary and to walk and not to faint. Wait on the Lord, dear sister, in confidence.

And mom who fails her children regularly (because that’s everyone else), preach the gospel to yourself this day. If you have any grasp on your reality, you are likely painfully aware of every failure you’ve made with your children. And maybe you are fatigued by the fears of future failure as well. It’s okay that your children expose your own sin to yourself. In fact, it’s the mom who doesn’t seem daily aware of her failures that most concerns me. Christ has made the way for you to be at peace. If you sinned against your kids, ask their forgiveness. If you are kicking yourself for your failures, preach God’s grace to yourself. Don’t learn to live with your sin – don’t embrace it with the attitude “that’s just how I am.” But don’t deny it either. Be honest about it. You sinned. You confess. God forgives. You get up and walk forward in confidence. It’s called gospel grace, and THAT is the legacy to leave your children.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama, Obama, Burning, and Geraldo

Much in the same way I randomly turned on the T.V. at an unusual time 10 years ago on September 11th, and watched the 2nd plane slam into the towers. . . . I turned on the news last night at 9:45 for no apparent reason. There was breaking news, I toggled between Wolf Blitzer and Geraldo "stretching" for time (and awkwardly so) waiting for the President to speak. The news came early (is anything actually announced at the proper time these days? Can anything not be "leaked"?) Osama Bin Laden was dead.

Geraldo almost cried and then he hi-fived the Retired General sitting across from him. Words failed (not that he didn't try), people at the Pentagon were "shaking" with the news.

Some were rejoicing, some were saying "burn in hell, Osama" on Facebook; others started immediately judging those responses saying that "Christians don't" do those kinds of things.

I wonder how many people who were denying an eternal Hell a few weeks ago are now wishing Osama would be there. I wonder how many people fighting against viewing God as "angry" and "punitive" are now wishing He would be so, (against Bin Laden, of course)

What's the proper response?

1) humility. Jesus talked about tragedy, encouraging those who were listening to "repent or you will likewise perish". It's a good time to confess our sins and realize that justice is coming for us as it did for Osama last week. We need Jesus to stand in the gap for us, we need to believe in Him, and then the justice meant for us was absorbed by Jesus.

2) reluctance. I'm getting to the good ones, don't worry. . . . but our attitude should, at the very least, not be quick to rejoice, pile on, or tell crude jokes about Bin Laden's belief system or what awaits him on the other side. . . . there but for the grace of God go I.

3) thanksgiving. For the mercies of Christ, for our military, for the sacrifice of those who serve to protect our country. It's appropriate to thank these men, and it's appropriate to give some of them leash (I'm going to include Geraldo here, he's spent years embedded with the forces in Afghanistan, chasing Bin Laden. . .he has pictures on his wall of guys he's traveled with who are now dead) in their celebration. We're not on the front lines, we haven't been chasing this man for 10 years. Let's let those who have. . . . . release a little bit and celebrate.

4) rejoicing. Not in the death of a man. But, the fact that justice was done to a man who is trying to kill you. . us, our children. Some are so quick to judge any who smack of being thankful that Osama is gone. As an American we can be happy that a brutal murderer has been brought to justice.

I thought President Obama was measured, firm, and gracious in victory last night. . . it was an appropriate tone, I think. And hey, kudos to him and others who have kept their eye on the ball with plenty of bunny trails at their disposal. Although I'm sure President Obama will try to reap the political rewards (and rightly so) from such a triumph, this has been a 10 year project under 2 presidents, numerous generals, and how many countless soldiers. Great job to all of them.

Yes, it's time to bring up the verses from Ezekiel about not rejoicing in the death of the wicked:

Ezekiel 33:11 (New International Version, ©2011)

Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?

There's alot to say about that verse, most notably that this was Israel, God's chosen people. But, this isn't the blog post for exegesis. Let's simply balance that with Romans 13 which talks about the role of Government:

Romans 13:4-5

4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

Should we pile on and wish that Bin Laden would "burn in Hell"? No. Should we judge those who would rejoice in this occasion as the end of a long military mission (that they were apart of ) and that a dangerous man has been brought to justice? No.

Let's stake out some middle ground and humble ourselves under God's mighty hand, . . while at the same time being thankful that justice has been done here, our Government has done their job (as the bible outlines it), and we're safer for it.