Friday, July 4, 2008

The Word Will Not Fail

Scripture will blow your mind. I recently read through the book of Matthew & Acts and have been deeply transformed by the mission and intentionality of Jesus and the apostles. As I read, their zeal for evangelism and proclaiming the Gospel was impressed upon me more than ever; while at the same time, I've been convicted by my own faithlessness. Why do I think that I would respond to the Gospel, but someone else wouldn't? What makes me different from the guy who serves lattes next to me on a daily basis? What do I have that I did not receive? God may save anyone! And the Father has been reminding me lately that I need not shrink in my faithlessness anymore.

When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was, he responded with an exhortation to love God (Deut. 6) and to love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19; Mark 12). So what I want for myself, I want for neighbors and those I love. If I desire to love God with perfect affection, I will want that for my neighbor as well. Here's the realization that struck me: But I am not loving my neighbor as myself If I am not trying to persuade him toward the greatest and best aspect of my own life--my reconciled relationship with God. (Augustine once wrote, "For you do not love him as yourself, unless you try to draw him to that good which you are yourself pursuing.")

How much evangelism do we find flowing out of our mouths? What does that suggest about our love for God? (Matt. 12.34)

These are the questions that have been convicting me this month.

I ask that you please be in continued prayer for me in the coming days/weeks/months that my life would commend the Gospel with word and deed.
I plan for so many less important things. Pray that I will plan for evangelism.
God doesn't use gifts so much for evangelism but faithfulness. Pray that I would remain faithful. Pray that God will sustain such faithfulness.
Pray that I do not fear my own ignorance.
Pray that I fear the Lord.
Pray that I would not protect my pride at the cost of their souls.
Pray that I can balance my honesty with urgency and joy.
Pray that I will continue to pray for those whom I love and are lost.
Pray that I will be able to wield the Sword of Truth in a way that will be winsome and give glory to God.
Pray that I will ask good questions and listen.

Pray that God will use me as a faithful messenger of the good news. Pray that I will see others saved from God's good punishment from their sins because they accept the good news of Christ's substitutionary death.

When the message of the cross captures your heart, then your tongue--stammering, stuttering, insulting, awkward, sarcastic, and imperfect as it may be--won't be far behind. As Jesus said, "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matt. 12.34).

What is your heart full of?
What do you spend your words on?

We cannot fail in our evangelism. God has said that his Word will not return void; it will accomplish his purposes. We fail only if we do not faithfully tell the gospel at all.

Preach the Gospel to yourself.

This week I have been reflecting a lot on the past few years of my life. They have been, for me, very formative years. In fact these two years have been among the most stessful of my life. Jesus said that unless a seed falls into the ground and dies it cannot bear fruit. What a great image for us to cling to when we feel like the earth is swallowing us.

It is in days like these that I realize how much I need to preach the gospel to myself. Oh, how soon I am to forget! Like the old hymn sings, "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; Prone to leave the God I love!" If there is one thing I've learned in the recent years about knowing Christ and growing in grace is that it doesn't come from reading books. It's not from books on theology and spiritual formation/discipline that spiritual growth comes comes through leaning into the gospel and trusting in the person and work of Jesus Christ in the midst of everyday hardships and trials. Through the testing of our faith we will know that we are his, and with that knowledge comes confidence and hope and peace and joy and life everlasting.

All of this being said, I'm curious as to how you guys "preach" the gospel to yourself on a daily basis. In your own words, what is the gospel? I love hearing/reading from other people when they speak about the gospel, so please, don't be afraid to be passionate. :)

I'll end with a few quotes I read earlier today that helped spark this email...

"If Christ has borne my punishment, I shall never bear it. Oh what joy there is in this blessed assurance. Your hope that you are pardoned lies in this, that Jesus died. Those dear wounds of His blessed life for you. Now we know that sin crucified Christ. Now we know that we stabbed our heavenly Lover to His Heart. Oh let us bless that dear Son of God who has put away even such sins as ours! Now we see our sins, and yet we do not see it, for God has pardoned it, blotted it out, cast it behind His back forever." - Charles Spurgeon

"The Gospel does not require anything good that man must furnish: not a good heart, not a good disposition, no improvement of his condition, no godliness, no love either of God or men. It issues no orders, but changes man. It plants love into his heart and makes him capable of all good works. It demands nothing, but it gives all. Should not this fact make us leap for joy?" - C.F.W. Walther

****I love reading good theology, don't think I'm knocking reading good Christian scholarship. Read as much as you can. Read some of the bad stuff too...history tends to repeat itself if we're not careful/faithful.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008


For those of you who are interested, here is a link to the church Jessica and I attended our first weekend together in Louisville.

Sojourn Community Church

We plan to visit around 10 churches and will post more later.

Daily Quote

"You can be so interested in great theological and intellectual and philosophical problems that you tend to forget that you are going to die."

-Martin Lloyd-Jones

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Rebel Jesus

The streets are filled with laughter and light
And the music of the season
And the merchants' windows are all bright
With the faces of the children
And the families hurrying into their homes
As the sky darkens and freezes
Will be gathering around the hearths and tales
Giving thanks for God's graces
And the birth of the rebel Jesus

Well they call him by 'the Prince of Peace'
And they call him by 'the Savior'
And they pray to him upon the seas
And in every bold endeavor
And they fill his churches with their pride and gold
As their faith in him increases
But they've turned the nature that I worship in
From a temple to a robber's den
In the words of the rebel Jesus

We guard our world with locks and guns
And we guard our fine possessions
And once a year when Christmas comes
We give to our relations
And perhaps we give a little to the poor
If the generosity should seize us
But if any one of us should interfere
In the business of why they are poor
They get the same as the rebel Jesus

But pardon me if I have seem
To take the tone of judgement
For I've no wish to come between
This day and your enjoyment
In the life of hardship and of earthly toil
There’s a need for anything that frees us
So I bid you pleasure
And I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus

Lyrics by Jackson Browne

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Suffering and God's Sovereignty (John Piper)

What a source of comfort we have in the sweet, sweet sovereignty of our Lord and God Jesus Christ.

This video brought me to tears.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Daily Quote

"A nominal Christian is happy to prove the importance of the crucified redeemer.... but the true Christian delights in the cross, rejoices in it, glories in it and shudders at the thought of glorying in anything else." - Charles Simeon

If We Lived Like We Sang...

H. Richard Niebuhr described liberal Christianity thus: 'A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.' For some time, I've wondered if the heart of liberal theology is the belief that man is actually not all that sinful, but is fundamentally fairly good. It is the message of Hollywood, of self-help writers, of humanism. It's the kind of position that tells us "Believe in yourself! You can do it!", "Do something for you", "It's ok if it feels good", "You might be a bit naughty but you're nowhere near as bad as your friend who...".

It's not a new lie that we are fundamentally ok. Around AD 383-410, there was a teacher in Rome by the name of Pelagius who taught against the doctrine of original sin, but suggested that sin only occurred in individual acts. He upheld that God does not hold men responsible for sins that they have no control over. He said that man's nature is still capable of choosing good and God without the help of God. He was clutching at straws.

Is Pelagian-style error creeping into our church music today? I think it may be. It's close to what is called semi-Pelagianism; following Pelagius to some degree- a position that says that humans can independently make the first move towards God, and that God completes the salvation process.

If it is, it comes subtly in the kind of songs that teach us we can relate to God casually, that encourage irreverence, that play-down sin, that make us people into something far more than we are. Songs that assume we inherrently have within ourselves the capacity to appraoch God without the need for his grace first. How many songs do you know that teach you that you're able to come to God of your own accord (i.e. without encouraging you to think about the gospel)? How many times have you sung lines like "I surrender all to You", "You're the only one that I could live for", "I'm desperate for you", "You are my one desire", "I will never stop loving You" and known for sure that you have meant it with all your heart?

A difficult question. I have sung "I surrender all to You" plenty of times, but I know full well that to this day, that still isn't entirely true of me. I pray that I can increasingly surrender my will, possessions and heart to God, but can I sing that I do until I actually do? By singing these things, am I not taking very lightly my relationship with God? The Bible is clear on all of these variations on the same theme that God draws us to Himself (John 6:44)- we do not choose Him. We have nothing of ourselves to boast in, and our songs ought to aid us in fearing and reverencing God, not relating to him as our "mate" or our "girlfriend". How we need less of "Hey Lord, O Lord, You know what we need" and "You took the fall and thought of me"; but so much more of "Indescribable, uncontainable, You set the stars in the sky and You know them by name" and "You give and take away, my heart will choose to say "Lord, blessed be Your Name".

Friday, November 23, 2007

God Glorified in Man's Dependence

"God is more glorified in the person of His son then He would have been in an unfallen world." - Charles Spurgeon

"God is glorified in the work of redemption in this, that there appears in it so absolute and universal a dependence of the redeemed on him." - Jonathan Edwards

"We are dependent on God's power through every step of our redemption. We are dependent on the power of God to convert us, and give faith in Jesus Christ, and the new nature." - Jonathan Edwards

"It is a more glorious work of power to rescue a soul out of the hands of the devil, and from the powers of darkness, and to bring it into a state of salvation, than to confer holiness where there was no prepossession or opposition...So it is a more glorious work of power to uphold a soul in a state of grace and holiness, and to carry it on till it is brought to glory, when there is so much sin remaining in the heart resisting, and Satan with all his might opposing, than it would have been to have kept man from falling at first, when Satan had nothing in man." - Jonathan Edwards

Monday, November 12, 2007

Assertions and Affections

I had a quick thought I felt like I would share:
As I was falling asleep during my afternoon nap yesterday I thought of
these two words: assertions and affections.

Much of the time spent in discussing the songs we sing in church have
to do with the words "style and substance," but I feel the focus
should be on the words "assertions and affections." The discussion
should be centered on the content of the music and its relation to us
as the recipients of God's Word, not on subjective moods toward style
and preferences toward instrumentation (although those are important
and should be considered as a secondary item).

The reason I was thinking of the words "assertions and affections" is
because all of life is held together by these two things, especially
in the life of the Christian. For example: The Word of God asserts
himself as Jesus Christ, we who believe are affected and live
accordingly. All of life should be seen in this manner, including our
times of corporate worship, and more specifically in the songs we
sing. The significance of hymns, young and old, is their clear
expression of the knowledge of God. This God to whom we are singing is
identified and completely distinct from all other gods and faiths.
Contemporary praise songs, on the other hand, tend to focus more on
our affections toward God.

We need the assertions. If we do not define the God to whom we are
singing, then our Christian faith loses its identification and
character. It becomes spineless and subject to sentimentality.

We need the affections. We need people who understand the God to whom
they are singing, and are moved by his holiness, sovereignty, justice,
love, mercy, and kindness.

Our God is both the God of Mount Sinai and the Christ who put his arm
around the woman at the well. We should sing joyfully sing to our Lord
and Savior, who is distinct and set apart from all peoples, all
philosophies, and all other gods.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Daily Quote

Os Guiness understands the heart of the problem the church faces today.
“…an unprecedented Christian pursuit of relevance has led directly to an unprecedented Christian irrelevance”

The irony is astounding. The Church today wants nothing more than to be relevant to the culture. Many in the church feel relevance is the only way to reach the culture with the gospel. Guiness says this pursuit of relevance is precisely the reason the Christian church today has never been more irrelevant.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Daily Quote, Popcorn, Hotdogs and Heaven

I read this on Tim Challies blogsite and thought it was cute. And yeah, words like that tend to come out after you've been married for awhile...I apologize.

Here it is:

I wanted to begin today by sharing a few words of wisdom from my daughter who just turned five: “In heaven you can’t die, so you can eat popcorn and hot dogs at the same time and not have to worry about choking.” I just thought you’d all like to have one more thing to look forward to in eternity. Of course one could well ask, “If there are hot dogs in heaven, could it really be heaven?”