Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Jesus is All I Need

I have no words today but wanted to post these lyrics for you all to enjoy. If you go to the Caedmon's Call myspace page and click under Share The Well album on their music you can listen to the song "All I Need (I Did Not Catch Her Name)".

Lots of thoughts in my mind and heart this week. Really simple but profound truths growing on me about what sin, confession and repentance is. It is really opening up my eyes to see how defeating it is for how most people (namely myself) deal with sin and how we view it.

Ruth Bible study starts Saturday night. I am excited but nervous. Nervous as in not afraid to do it but nervous in that it is a HUGE responsibility to do it. God takes His Word very seriously and I don't want to do anything to lead people astray. Pray for continued humbleness and brokenness to happen in my heart and that God would speak to us in a mighty way in this leading I am being faithful to answer. Pray that God would open eyes to see and ears to hear His Word and that we would be granted repentance through the miraculous working of His Holy Spirit. I know whom I have believed and He is faithful to His Name.

Grace and Peace,


Did not catch her name
Did not catch her tears
It hit me like a train
When her story hit my ears
Mother of eight sons
Father off to war
Got no home address
Just bricks on a dirt floor
Jesus is all I need

Tiny plot of land
Corn stored up in piles
Years it doesn't rain
They just stay hungry for a while
No fatted calf to kill
She made a feast of cuy and corn
She said, "Who else knew my name
Before the day that I was born?
Jesus is all I need
Jesus is all I need."

She bragged about her boys
How they're growin' into men
How they learned to praise the Lord
Old Style Ecuadorian
To buy the new guitar
They had to sell the swine
Said, "My boys go to school on a foreign angel's dime.
This world calls me poor
I bore my babies on this floor
He always provides
Sure as the sun will rise.
So I'll sing Him songs of praise
'Cause I know He'll keep me in His gaze."

Rain poured from the sky
We raced back to the van
There were tears in the eyes
Of this poor, forgetful man
Mother of eight sons
She knows the peace of God
Lord, help me learn to lean
On thy staff and thy rod
Jesus is all I need
Jesus is all I need

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The LORD is my Portion

"My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever."
(Psalm 73:26, NIV)

I was awaken this morning by the sound of conversation in the kitchen. I stumbled out of bed and made it to the kitchen table to take my medicine and eat breakfast and overheard my parents talking about a very interesting topic. There is much controversy over issues relating to the economy and some of the things being proposed to help out some of the "down-on-luck" banks to get them back up may have some devastating effects on Americans who owe money to the bank. I did not understand too much, as it was early in the morning and I was not directly trying to join the conversation anyways, but if certain things happen if this bill gets approved people could lose their houses or a lot of what they worked for. It is devastating to think about this and how little security we actually have in a lot of things that seem very stable.

It is not just in the economy that we feel this. (If you aren't feeling it, you will be abruptly awakened by life one day in the not so far future.) Devastation in marriages, children engaging in destruction behaviors, war, disease, famine, genocide: life in this world hits hard sometimes.

And it is not just something "out there" far removed. I myself have felt the devastating grip of unexplained mental health issues and have godly relationships unexpectedly turn in horrifying ways. My life was nearly shipwrecked from all of this and have now maybe in the last year and a half began to recover and gain grounding again.

But back to this morning. I got into the shower with a lot of muffled thoughts and got out and went back to bed for a few minutes as I usually do and woke up and got ready for school. The past two days have been a little shaky as I have not been feeling well which almost always puts me in a melancholic mood.

I was driving to school and began to think about the state of the economy and the state of the world and just how crazy things can become. I started thinking back to all of the moments I have had that the level of my sanity was questionable. I remember a serious of months where I would on and off just up and leave and the next thing I really realized I was in another part of town, state, or country. I cannot fully say that during these times I knew what I was doing and was trying to get away from things or that it was kind of beyond my control as I was not fully all "there". It was a very scary and tumultuous time for me and for my friends and family and how easy it would have been to lose hope going through something like this. In thinking about all of this, it kind of hit me how fragile I am and how fragile this world is.

But I remember what the LORD has done in the past and how faithful He has been.

I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.

When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands
and my soul refused to be comforted.

I remembered you, O God, and I groaned;
I mused, and my spirit grew faint.

You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.

I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;

I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart mused and my spirit inquired:

"Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?

Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?

Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?"

Then I thought, "To this I will appeal:
the years of the right hand of the Most High."

I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.

I will meditate on all your works
and consider all your mighty deeds.

Your ways, O God, are holy.
What god is so great as our God?

You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.

With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

The waters saw you, O God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.

The clouds poured down water,
the skies resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.

Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.

Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.

You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
(Psalm 77, NIV)

I look not only to the past to see what God has done, but I also look to the character and nature of God and His ability to perform His word and His purposes. In 2 Timothy, Paul is writing to Timothy, a younger Christian leader in the Church who is a very timid person. Considering the circumstances surrounding all of that, it is easy to see why Timothy would be timid. There was immense persecution going on in the Church, Timothy being from a mixed background having one parent Jewish by birth and the other Greek created much conflict for him, and his close friend Paul was talking more and more about the certainty of his death coming soon which would leave Timothy and the Church very uncertain about its future. With Timothy already being timid, it just aided his anxiety with Paul being held as a prisoner under house arrest. The words Paul gives Timothy are amazing.

"Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God's word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him,
we will also live with him;

if we endure,
we will also reign with him.

If we disown him,
he will also disown us;

if we are faithless,
he will remain faithful,
for he cannot disown himself."
(2 Timothy 2:8-13, NIV)

Paul is essentially saying that although things may look bad and that He is chained and being prevented from being more free to spread the Gospel, God's Word is not held captive by any man. It fulfills every purpose for which it is sent. Paul goes on to say that if we died with Christ, we will live with Him in heaven if our faith endures to the end. He also says that if we deny that Jesus is God then God will have nothing to do with us. But in spite of what we, God's will and purpose will be accomplished. It depends not on us to do it. God cannot go against what He has purposed to do; He must succeed because if He didn't then He wouldn't be God.

God always accomplishes His purposes, but He is also compassionate towards us in what He brings to pass. Last night I was talking with some people in a small group about the patience of God in dealing with evil. He may have sent Noah's generation a flood that wiped out the human race leaving Noah's family to go through the loss of all that they knew and watch the water rise as the people they lived near died gruesome deaths outside in the water pounding on the boat to get in, but He had compassion on Noah so that He could continue His purpose of preserving man until Christ could come. Genesis called Noah a righteous man and paints a good picture of him and then a couple of chapters later after that same man was on the land that had been cleansed naked and drunk engaging in some kind of immoral act with his son. God saved Noah knowing what he would do. It was no surprise. It is such a strange thing that God would tolerate or decree that something He hates will come to pass.

I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.

So I say, "My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the LORD."

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.

I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.

Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;

it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.

It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.

Let him sit alone in silence,

for the LORD has laid it on him.

Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.

Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.

For men are not cast off
by the Lord forever.

Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.

For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to the children of men.

To crush underfoot
all prisoners in the land,

to deny a man his rights
before the Most High,

to deprive a man of justice—
would not the Lord see such things?

Who can speak and have it happen
if the Lord has not decreed it?

Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that both calamities and good things come?
(Lamentations 3:13-38, NIV)

Everything that befalls the children of God has the purpose of getting us to a place where we value Christ as the most precious thing; to have knowing Christ as something that we will be willing to consider all things a loss compared to knowing Him more and more. The purpose of the universe is that we will know who Christ is more fully so that in knowing Him in all that He is, we will know more fully how much we are loved by God.

In Psalm 73, the writer talks about how much anguish He had in looking at His life and what all was happening to him at that time. He cried out to God and God showed him the bigger picture of what will happen to all of the evil things that befall us. He saw the big picture and how great God is in all His doings and was able to forsake his doubts and fears to God and trust in Him. Knowing how great God is compared to anything else and how weak we are as people but how able God is to accomplish His purposes, He says:

"Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever."
(Psalm 73:25,26 NIV
So when we step back into the world we live in today with all of the crazy things going on, when we see God more clearly as we get to know Him, we are able to say:

"My family, the economy, my health, or anything else that can happen may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How to Deal with the Guilt of Sexual Failure for the Glory of Christ and His Global Cause

This is a message I heard that I want to share with you all. It is something we as the Church do not talk about as much as we need to. Enjoy!

How to Deal with the Guilt of Sexual Failure for the Glory of Christ and His Global Cause

The closest I have ever come to being fired from my position as a pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in the last twenty-six years was in the mid eighties when I wrote an article for our church news letter titled “Missions and Masturbation.”
The article didn’t come out of nowhere, and my mentioning here is not mainly to get your attention, but because it has to do with the core issue of what you have been looking at in
Colossians 1-3 and what my global dreams for you are in the Passion movement.
I wrote the article after returning from a missions conference in Washington, D. C. with George Verwer, the head of Operation Mobilization.

A Dream That Faded
Verwer’s burden in that conference was the tragic number of young people (like many of you) who at one point in their lives dreamed of radical obedience to Jesus and were joyfully willing to lay down their lives and sacrifice anything to make Jesus known among the nations, but then faded away into useless, American prosperity because of a gnawing sense of unworthiness and guilt over sexual failure that gradually gave way to spiritual powerlessness and the dead-end dream of the middle class security and comfort.

In other words, what seemed so tragic to George Verwer—as it does to me—is that so many young people were being lost in the cause of Christ’s mission because they were not taught how to deal with the guilt of sexual failure.
Note carefully how I am saying it: They were not taught how to deal with the guilt of sexual failure. The problem is not just how to not to fail. The problem is how to deal with failure so that it doesn’t sweep you away into a whole life of wasted middle-class mediocrity with no impact for Christ.

The Main Tragedy
The great tragedy is not mainly masturbation or fornication or acting like a peeping Tom (or curious Cathy) on the internet. The tragedy is that Satan uses the guilt of these failures to strip you of every radical dream you ever had, or might have, and in its place give you a happy, safe, secure, American life of superficial pleasures until you die in your lakeside rocking chair, wrinkled and useless, leaving a big fat inheritance to your middle-aged children to confirm them in their worldliness. That’s the main tragedy.
I have not come to Atlanta to waste your time or mine. I have come with a passion that you not waste your life. My aim is not mainly to cure you of sexual misconduct. I would like that to happen. O, God let it happen! But mainly I want to take out of the devil’s hand the weapon that exploits the sin of your life to destroy your valiant dreams, and make your whole life a wasted worldly success.

Do you know the real, deeper meaning of Passion’s “Do Something Now” campaign?

20,000 towels for Atlanta shelters,
11 wells for fresh water in Africa,
college education for 20 international Compassion students,
the New Testament translated for the Dela people of Indonesia,
a freedom center for the Kurds in Northern Iraq,
life-changing surgery for kids in South America,
Bibles for families in East Asia,
liberation for those enslaved in sex trafficking.

The Point: Your Life
What’s the point of all that? The point is not this is what you do with your loose change. The point is: This is what you do with your life. You don’t want always be sitting high in your SUV dropping nickels into other people’s dreams. Satan wants that for you. But you don’t! You want to dream your own dream for the glory of Christ. Why am I on this planet? What has God put me here for?

What broke George Verwer’s heart back in the eighties, and breaks mine today, is not mainly that you have sinned sexually, but that this morning Satan took your 2 AM encounter in the hotel room—whether on TV or in bed—and told you: “See, you’re a loser. You may as well not even go to worship. No way are you going to make any serious commitment of your life to Jesus Christ! You may as well go back to school and get a good practical education, and then a good job so you can buy yourself a big wide screen and watch sex till you drop.”

I want to take that weapon out of his hand. Yes, I want you to have the joyful courage not to even do the channel surfing. But sooner or later, whether it’s that sin or another, you are going to fall. I have come to Atlanta to help you deal with the guilt of that failure so that Satan does not use it to produce another wasted life.

Two Headings
So here is where we are going: First, we will link up with where many of your have been in Colossians in your Community Groups. And second, we will go to the prophet Micah to see what victory looks like the morning after failure.

If it will help to have two headings, here they are:

1) Theology can conquer biology. Or another way to say it more specifically: Justification can conquer fornication.

2) Trust Christ to the hilt with gutsy guilt.

1. Theology Can Conquer Biology
The backdrop of all the teaching in
Colossians 1-3 is Colossians 3:6, “On account of these the wrath of God is coming.” Hanging over the whole world is the holy, just, unimpeachable anger of God at sin and rebellion. His wrath is coming and the salvation spoken of in Colossians 1-3 is rescue from that. No one wants to meet the wrath of “the Lamb” when it comes (Revelation 6:16). So God, in his mercy makes a way out.

And what is distinctively Christian about the teachings of these chapters is that our rescue was most decisively accomplished for us by another and was done outside of us. In other words, Christ did something in history before we existed that obtained and guaranteed our rescue and the transformation of all who would come to trust in him. The distinctive and crucial thing about Christian salvation is that Christ accomplished it decisively for us and outside of us and without our help. And when we put our faith in him we do not add to the sufficiency of what he accomplished in covering our sins and achieving the righteousness that counts as ours.

For You and Outside of You
The clearest verses on this point are
Colossians 2:13-14, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”

Those last words are the most crucial. This—this record of debt that stood against us—God set aside, nailing it to the cross. When did that happen? Two thousand years ago. It did not happen in you, and it did not happen with any help from you. God did that for you and outside of you.
Make sure you see this most glorious of all truths: God took the record of all your sins—all your sexual failures—that made you a debtor to wrath, and instead of holding them up in front of your face and using them as the warrant to send you to hell, he put them in the palm of his Son’s hand and nailed them to the cross.

Substitutionary Atonement
Whose sins were nailed to the cross—or more precisely, whose sins were punished on the cross? My sins and yours—the sins of all who despair of saving themselves and trust in Christ alone. Whose hands were nailed to the cross—or more precisely, who was punished on the cross? Jesus was. There is a beautiful name for this. It’s called a substitution.
Paul wrote in
Romans 8:3, “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.” He condemned sin in the flesh. Whose sin? Ours. Jesus had none (it was the likeness of sinful flesh, not sinful flesh). He condemned our sin in the flesh. Whose flesh? Jesus’ flesh, not ours.

Have you ever wondered what the next verse in Colossians 2:15 means? Right after saying that God nailed the record of our debt to the cross, Paul says, “[God] disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” This is a reference to the devil and all his demonic hosts. How are they disarmed? How are they defeated? Don’t they prowl around like a roaring lion today (1 Peter 5:8)?

The answer is: They have many weapons. They can do much damage. But they are disarmed of the one weapon that can damn us. The weapon of unforgiven sin. Be sure you see the connection between Colossians 2:14 and 15. In 2:14, it says God nailed the record of our debt to the cross. It’s punished. It’s finished. And in the next breath he says that God disarmed the rulers and authorities. He triumphed over them. Sure, they can beat us up. They can make us see weird things on the walls of our rooms. They can shake your house and cause lying signs and wonders. They accuse you and call you a loser, but they cannot damn you. That weapon is out of their hands. Only unforgiven sin damns. And that was nailed to the cross for everyone of you who despairs of saving yourself and trusts in Jesus.

A License to Sin?
I know that there are hundreds in this room right now who see so little of the beauty of Christ in this salvation that it simply sounds to them like a license to go on sinning. If all my sins are nailed to the cross, then let’s all sin that grace may abound (
Romans 6:1). Paul confronted that blindness in his own day and said, “Their condemnation is just” (Romans 3:8). The reason they will be condemned is that we are saved by grace through faith. That’s plain in Colossians 2:12, “You were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God.” This faith connects you with Jesus so that his death counts for your death and his righteousness counts for your righteousness (compare Romans 5:1, “by faith” and 8:1 “in Christ”). And this faith receives Christ. It’s not a performing. It’s not an adding to what Christ has done. It is a receiving. Saving faith receives Jesus as Savior and Lord and Treasure of your life.

And this faith will fight anything that get’s between it and Christ. The distinguishing mark of saving faith is not perfection. The mark of faith is not that I never sin sexually. The mark of faith is that I fight. I fight anything that dims my sight of Jesus as my glorious Savior. I fight anything that diminishes the fullness of the lordship of Jesus in my life. I fight anything that threatens to replace Jesus as the supreme Treasure of my life. Anything that stands between me and receiving Jesus faith fights—not with fists or knives or guns or bombs, but with the truth of Christ.

So if all you can see in the cross of Jesus is a license to go on sinning, you don’t have saving faith. And you need to fall on your face and plead that God would open your eyes to see the compelling glory of Jesus Christ.

Justification Can Conquer Fornication
Now I said that one heading over this first point would be theology can conquer biology. Another way to put it I said was justification can conquer fornication. I haven’t spoken about justification, but it is very closely related to the work of God in nailing our sins to the cross in Christ Jesus.
Justification is the act by which God declares us not only forgiven because of the work of Christ, but also righteous because of the work of Christ. God requires two things for our right standing before him: 1) our sins must be punished and 2) our lives must be righteous. But we cannot bear our own punishment (
Psalm 49:7-8), and we cannot provide our own righteousness. None is righteous; no, not one (Romans 3:10).

Therefore, God, out of his immeasurable love for us, provided his own Son to do both. Christ bears our punishment and performs our righteousness. And when we receive Christ as the Savior and Lord and Treasure of our lives, all of his punishment and all of his righteousness is counted as ours (Romans 4:4-6; 5:19; 5:1; 8:1; 10:4; Philippians 3:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

The Ballast of Knowing Christ
When I say theology can conquer biology and justification can conquer fornication I mean that a deep and growing biblical knowledge of God and Christ and the cross and salvation and faith and how God does it all for the glory of Christ can give such ballast to the boat of your life that the wind of temptation will not be able to tip it over so easily. The reason this is not a popular remedy for temptation today is because it is not a quick fix. It’s the work of a lifetime.
The prophet cries out, “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;” “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (
Hosea 6:3; 4:6). Our people are laid waste with sexual temptation and failure and guilt because their soul and their mind have shriveled down to the size of a TV sitcom.

And of course someone will say to me when this talk is over: “You think theology conquers biology? I know a Ph.D. in theology who ran off with the department secretary.” Of course theology by itself won’t keep you out of bed with your boyfriend or girlfriend. I am not replacing passion for Jesus with theology. I am saying that the human soul was made to be strong in the rich, deep, powerful knowledge of Colossians 1-3. For too long we have belittled theology in favor of passion, or belittled passion in favor of theology. We were created to know much about God, and we were created to feel much for God.

Knowing how your punishment for sin has already happened in Christ and knowing how your perfect righteousness before God has already been achieved in Christ, and holding fast to these truths with heartfelt passion, is a tremendous weapon against the devil, when he rises to tell you that your sexual failures rule you out of Christ’s mission and condemn you to a life of meaningless, middle-class, American prosperity.

With this passionately embraced theology—with the magnificent doctrines of substitutionary atonement and justification by faith (even if you don’t remember the names), you can conquer the devil tomorrow morning when he lies to you about your hopelessness.

2. Trust Christ to the Hilt with Gutsy Guilt
And what will you say to him? I conclude with my second point, Trusting Christ to the hilt with gutsy guilt.
Micah 7:8-9 is a picture of what you say to your enemy when he scoffs at your defeat. Here is what you say. My summary of these words is to call them gutsy guilt. I call it that because the believer admits that he has done wrong and that God is dealing roughly with him. But even in a condition of darkness and discipline, he will not surrender his hold on the truth that God is on his side. Listen to these amazing words. Mark them. Memorize them. Use them whenever Satan tempts you to throw away your life on trifles because that’s all you’re good for.

"Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication." (Micah 7:8-9)

This is what victory looks like the morning after failure. Meditate on it long and hard when I am gone. Learn to take your theology and speak like this to the devil or anyone else who tells you that Christ is not capable of using you mightily for his global cause. Here is what you say:

“Rejoice not over me, O my enemy.” You make merry over my failure? You think you will draw me into your deception? Think again.

“When I fall, I shall rise.” Yes, I have fallen. And I hate what I have done. I grieve at the dishonor I have brought on my king. But hear this, O my enemy, I will rise. I will rise.

“When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.” Yes, I am sitting in darkness. I feel miserable. I feel guilty. I am guilty. But that is not all that is true about me and my God. The same God who makes my darkness is a sustaining light to me in this very darkness. He will not forsake me.

“I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me.” O yes, my enemy, this much truth you say, I have sinned. I am bearing the indignation of the Lord. But that is where your truth stops and my theology begins: He—the very one who is indignant with me—he will plead my cause. You say he is against me and that I have no future with him because of my failure. That’s what Job’s friends said. That is a lie. And you are a liar. My God, whose Son’s life is my righteousness and whose Son’s death is my punishment, will execute judgment for me. For me! FOR me! And not against me.

“He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication.” This misery that I now feel because of my failure, I will bear as long as my dear God ordains. And this I know for sure—as sure as Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is my punishment and my righteousness—God will bring me out to the light, and I will look upon his righteousness, my Lord and my God.

The Increasing Preciousness of Christ
O my brothers and sisters, when you learn to deal with the guilt of sexual failure with this kind brokenhearted boldness, this kind of theology, this kind of justification by faith, this kind substitutionary atonement, this kind of gutsy guilt, this kind of unshakable position that you have in the crucified, risen, invincible king Jesus Christ—when you learn to deal with the guilt of sexual failure this way, you will fall less often. Because Christ will become increasingly precious to you.

And best of all, Satan will not be able to destroy your dream of a life of radical obedience to Christ. George Verwer will not have preached in vain. I will not have written my “Missions and Masturbation” article in vain, I will not have come to Atlanta in vain, and the Passion movement will not exist in vain because by this Christ-exalting gutsy guilt thousands of you—thousands of you—will give your lives to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. Lord, may it be so.

By John Piper
© Desiring God

Thinking of You

I find myself stuck in nostalgia this afternoon. The lull of the day and the awesome things going on in my life make me miss her being around to share life with. There are really no words to say and this is not really the place to get stuff out so I am posting these lyrics below as a means of expression.

Your fingertips across my skin
The palm trees swaying in the wind

You sang me Spanish lullabies
The sweetest sadness in your eyes
Clever trick

I never want to see you unhappy
I thought you'd want the same for me

Goodbye, my almost lover
Goodbye, my hopeless dream
I'm trying not to think about you
Can't you just let me be?

So long, my luckless romance
My back is turned on you
I should've known you'd bring me heartache
Almost lovers always do

We walked along a crowded street
You took my hand and danced with me

And when you left you kissed my lips
You told me you'd never ever forget these images, no

I never want to see you unhappy
I thought you'd want the same for me

Goodbye, my almost lover
Goodbye, my hopeless dream
I'm trying not to think about you
Can't you just let me be?

So long, my luckless romance
My back is turned on you
I should've known you'd bring me heartache
Almost lovers always do

I cannot go to the ocean
I cannot drive the streets at night
I cannot wake up in the morning
Without you on my mind

So you're gone and I'm haunted
And I bet you are just fine
Did I make it that easy
To walk right in and out of my life?

Goodbye, my almost lover
Goodbye, my hopeless dream
I'm trying not to think about you
Can't you just let me be?

So long, my luckless romance
My back is turned on you
I should've known you'd bring me heartache
Almost lovers always do

- "Almost Lover"
A Fine Frenzy

Friday, September 19, 2008

Who is this King of Glory? Part 1

In the book of Exodus God raises up Moses to lead His people out of slavery in Egypt. After Moses returns from "running away" from God and goes back to Egypt to be a mouthpiece of God before Pharoah, God intsructs Moses that Pharoah will not listen to him. So God sends plagues over and over again to the Egyptians until finally they are able to leave. As they are leaving and the sea has been split for them to cross, Pharoah changes his mind and sends an army out to get the Jews to return. The Jews manage a quick escape and God crashes the ocean on top of the army killing them so that they are no more.

So here are the Jews out in the desert wandering around going to the promised land. They have no real expectation of being able to return to Egypt. If they went back, who knows what would have been done to them. So here they are wandering in the desert and Moses goes up to the top of the mountain to be with God. Moses is up there for a long time and all of the people down below have serious doubts about this Moses guy already and figure that he died or just was not going to come back.

So doing what most people do when they have no sense of direction, feeling totally lost and vulnerable they go to worship other gods. It was actually some golden calf that most historians believe the Jews knew about because of the calf worship that took place in Egypt at that time. This was obviously not thought through too much because (1) you are in the middle of nowhere and can't expect to stay there and live for very long and (2) it would make more sense to just move on and hope that maybe this God will give you some kind of direction about what to do.

I think the modern equivalant to that would be like God moving us somewhere as a group with a really sketchy leader who messed up a lot and after following this guy out somewhere, he leaves to go somewhere to talk to "someone" over and over and everytime he leaves some wierd weather stuff happens. The weather stuff lasts for a while and we figure he's dead so we go next door to Mcdonald's to cope with the situation. We really don't know what we are going to do other than eat Big Macs to forget all the stuff. It never crosses our minds how much damage we are doing to ourselves or what we will do when we run out of money. We may eat and be full but eventually we are going to be stuck at some random Mcdonald's with nowhere to go. (And when the sketchy leader does actually return he finds that we wasted all the gas money on a combo meal. And...we are still stuck at Mcdonald's.)

Moses does return and finds the people worshipping this golden calf and gets pretty upset about it because he knows how up the creek they are. Moses goes back up to the mountain to "make atonement", which I interpret to mean that he pleaded with God.

God  then promises to only repay the guilt parties involved in this whole thing and then sends a plague on everybody as a curse. Everyone is not having the best of time and then God spokes to Moses.

"Then the LORD said to Moses, "Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way."
When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments. For the LORD had said to Moses, "Tell the Israelites, 'You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.' " So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb.

Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the "tent of meeting." Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the LORD spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to his tent. The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.

Moses said to the LORD, "You have been telling me, 'Lead these people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, 'I know you by name and you have found favor with me.' If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people." The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?"

And the LORD said to Moses, "I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name." Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory." And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live." Then the LORD said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen." (Exodus 33 ESV)

God is dealing with these people in a way that it would be really scary to be them.

The LORD said to Moses, "Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, 'To your offspring I will give it.' I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people." (Exodus 33:1-3 ESV)

God is basically telling them that He is going to fulfill His obligations but that they themselves are kind of on their own. So here they are out in the wilderness really unsure about what is going to happen to them. They can't go home to Egypt and the future looks uncertain for them as well.

So the Jews are moving about in the desert with this God that they are just starting to get to know and are very bewildered, afraid and totally uncertain about what is going to happen to them. They cannot return to where they were and they really cannot hope to move forward in success. In the Jewish mind, if God did not tell people that He was going with them it basically meant that they were pretty much up the creek. And not up the creek in the sense that they would have a couple of difficulties along the way. It was kind of like God was going to let them get the crap beat out of them in the wilderness. God was basically saying to Moses: "I am so angry that I will destroy you because of what you are doing if I stay near you guys. I am going to go ahead of you to this land I promised to your family and when you guys gets there everything will be ready to go. By the way, the whole desert trip there will be terrible. That whole thing about me protecting you from wild animals and giving you food and water, that is going to stop. You guys are so hard-headed and this little experience should help you out."

So here are the Jews, with nowhere to go back to and a hard road ahead of them interacting with a very strange Being that they totally do not understand.  This story is much like our experiences with God. This God somehow enters our life and calls us to leave behind what we once knew in a life of sin. We struggle to make sense of this experience yearning to go back to what we once knew but know that things will be worse for us if we do (see Hebrews 6). We will be slaves where we were but we don't know what to make of what is going on. We are going through the desert and are not yet in the Promised Land. We are learning to interact with God and are learning what it means to be His people. And when we mess up, God disciplines us.

"It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
(Hebrews 12: 7-11, ESV)

God may discipline us for a short while, but even in doing so He never leaves us or forsakes us. What will be the fate of the Jews? Stay tuned for Part 2.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"We trusted in Him and He saved us"

The LORD has been doing a lot of things in my heart and mind these past few days and I have no words to say. I have wanted to post but feel the need to be silent and still. I read this passage this morning and wanted to share it.

O LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done marvelous things,
things planned long ago.

You have made the city a heap of rubble,
the fortified town a ruin,
the foreigners' stronghold a city no more;
it will never be rebuilt.

Therefore strong peoples will honor you;
cities of ruthless nations will revere you.

You have been a refuge for the poor,
a refuge for the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm
and a shade from the heat.
For the breath of the ruthless
is like a storm driving against a wall

and like the heat of the desert.
You silence the uproar of foreigners;
as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud,
so the song of the ruthless is stilled.

On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.

On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;

he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove the disgrace of his people
from all the earth.
The LORD has spoken.

In that day they will say,
"Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the LORD, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation."

(Isaiah 25:1-9, NIV)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Unfaithful Wife and The Loving-Kindness of Her Husband

"I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was fine flour, honey and olive oil. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign LORD. " 'But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his. You took some of your garments to make gaudy high places, where you carried on your prostitution. Such things should not happen, nor should they ever occur. You also took the fine jewelry I gave you, the jewelry made of my gold and silver, and you made for yourself male idols and engaged in prostitution with them. And you took your embroidered clothes to put on them, and you offered my oil and incense before them. Also the food I provided for you—the fine flour, olive oil and honey I gave you to eat—you offered as fragrant incense before them. That is what happened, declares the Sovereign LORD."

" 'How weak-willed you are, declares the Sovereign LORD, when you do all these things, acting like a brazen prostitute! When you built your mounds at the head of every street and made your lofty shrines in every public square, you were unlike a prostitute, because you scorned payment.

" 'You adulterous wife! You prefer strangers to your own husband! Every prostitute receives a fee, but you give gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from everywhere for your illicit favors. So in your prostitution you are the opposite of others; no one runs after you for your favors. You are the very opposite, for you give payment and none is given to you.

" 'Therefore, you prostitute, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because you poured out your wealth and exposed your nakedness in your promiscuity with your lovers, and because of all your detestable idols, and because you gave them your children's blood, therefore I am going to gather all your lovers, with whom you found pleasure, those you loved as well as those you hated. I will gather them against you from all around and will strip you in front of them, and they will see all your nakedness. I will sentence you to the punishment of women who commit adultery and who shed blood; I will bring upon you the blood vengeance of my wrath and jealous anger. Then I will hand you over to your lovers, and they will tear down your mounds and destroy your lofty shrines. They will strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry and leave you naked and bare. They will bring a mob against you, who will stone you and hack you to pieces with their swords. They will burn down your houses and inflict punishment on you in the sight of many women. I will put a stop to your prostitution, and you will no longer pay your lovers. Then my wrath against you will subside and my jealous anger will turn away from you; I will be calm and no longer angry.

" 'Because you did not remember the days of your youth but enraged me with all these things, I will surely bring down on your head what you have done, declares the Sovereign LORD. Did you not add lewdness to all your other detestable practices?

" 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your sisters, both those who are older than you and those who are younger. I will give them to you as daughters, but not on the basis of my covenant with you. So I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the LORD. Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign LORD.' "

"Rebuke your mother, rebuke her,
for she is not my wife,
and I am not her husband.
Let her remove the adulterous look from her face
and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts.

Otherwise I will strip her naked
and make her as bare as on the day she was born;
I will make her like a desert,
turn her into a parched land,
and slay her with thirst.

I will not show my love to her children,
because they are the children of adultery.

Their mother has been unfaithful
and has conceived them in disgrace.
She said, 'I will go after my lovers,
who give me my food and my water,
my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.'

Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.

Then she will say,
'I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.'

She has not acknowledged that I was the one
who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,
who lavished on her the silver and gold—
which they used for Baal.

"Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens,
and my new wine when it is ready.
I will take back my wool and my linen,
intended to cover her nakedness.

So now I will expose her lewdness
before the eyes of her lovers;
no one will take her out of my hands.

I will stop all her celebrations:
her yearly festivals, her New Moons,
her Sabbath days—all her appointed feasts.

I will ruin her vines and her fig trees,
which she said were her pay from her lovers;
I will make them a thicket,
and wild animals will devour them.

I will punish her for the days
she burned incense to the Baals;
she decked herself with rings and jewelry,
and went after her lovers,
but me she forgot,"
declares the LORD.

"Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her.

There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will sing as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

"In that day," declares the LORD,
"you will call me 'my husband';
you will no longer call me 'my master. '

I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips;
no longer will their names be invoked.
In that day I will make a covenant for them
with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air
and the creatures that move along the ground.

Bow and sword and battle
I will abolish from the land,
so that all may lie down in safety.

I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.

I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the LORD.

"In that day I will respond,"
declares the LORD—
"I will respond to the skies,
and they will respond to the earth;

and the earth will respond to the grain,
the new wine and oil,
and they will respond to Jezreel.

I will plant her for myself in the land;
I will show my love to the one I called 'Not my loved one. '
I will say to those called 'Not my people, ' 'You are my people';
and they will say, 'You are my God.' "

(Ezekiel 16:11-19, 30-43, 59-63; Hosea 2:2-23 NIV)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Spectacular Sins: Expanding The Vision of God

"I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus." (Rev. 1:9 NIV)

The link below is something I found this afternoon. It blew me away. It is from a book coming out by John Piper. In the world we live in, we need a huge vision of God to make it through the difficulties that will befall us and the world. Please listen to these words when you really have a chance to sit and breathe them in. Pray over this and meditate on it. God has been working on my heart and has become much larger and much more for me these past couple of weeks. I am learning what it means to fear God both in terror from His wrath and in Awe of who Christ is. In knowing both of these, I have come to have a deep peace and a much greater vision of how huge the love of God because of knowing this. It is pride-crushing and God-exalting to catch the vision this message brings.

The book is available on Desiring God for $5. Consider buying this book. If you do not have the money for it but feel that you need to read it, let me know (chleba913@hotmail.com) and I will buy one for you. I am serious about this.

My heart is aching that all or maybe even any of us, maybe even myself, reading this post and and listening to the link below will catch this vision. I have stopped half a dozen times in this writing praying deeply in my spirit and overwhlemed by my emotions that the Church in America may catch this. May God quicken us and give us hears to hear and eyes to see Him with.


Forget Not the Work of Christ

"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" (Romans 4:1-4 NIV)

Last night I was in the grocery store getting some food for a get together at a friends house. I saw this girl in line at the checkout and it quickly caught my attention. What initially caught my eye was the way she was dressed (or the way that she wasn't dressed) and begin to overhear the conversation she was having with her friends in line with her. Her friends were several years younger looking and it was obvious that it was sounding like this older provocatively dressed girl was leading/aiding these younger girls into some things they should not be involved in. It angered me that she would be so careless as to lead impressionable people into sin and dress in a way that no telling how many guys she passed would devour her in their minds. I thought in my mind: "People like that deserve the wrath of God". And right after the thought formed clearly in my mind and I said it to myself I heard the Lord say in a firm but sweet and loving voice: "So do you." Immediately I was convicted by the fact that what even started me noticing any of this was my own lustful eyes and was overwhelmed by how great it is to have Christ because of the peace I have with God despite my shortcomings and that all of us are in need of a Savior. There is not one of us who has not "sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" and that those who have been made right with God are done so only "freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:23-24 NIV). All the way to my friend's house Psalm 103 was on my mind.

Of David:

Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-

who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,

who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:

The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.

He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;

He does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;

the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.

But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD's love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children's children-

with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.

Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.

Praise the LORD, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the LORD, O my soul.

I pray that more and more we will realize the gift we have of Christ and that our hearts would see it more fully with each moment that passes. I pray that we would see how truly desperate we once were without Christ but solely by His own grace and purpose, He "has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (Eph. 1:3 ESV) and saved us from wrath and to glory. When we truly see this, the world will see how amazing the work of Redemption is.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Post Secrets

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." (James 5:16a NIV)

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9 NIV)

There is a group that has produced several books of secrets that people mailed into them on postcards done in an artsy fashion. The link to the blog is Post Secrets right in the mix of the other blogs. It is updated every Sunday night and is absolutely amazing. It is so refreshing to read people's real thoughts about things going on in their life and to know that I am not the only one with all of these crazy thoughts and unknown things inside of me.

I am so thankful for having the grace of God in Christ to go to the Father to confess things to. I think if I admit it there are areas where I don't want to fully acknowledge that I am at the place that I am on some things. Some of it is just bizarre or really funny but are things you just wouldn't say to anyone. It is good to have sites like this where people can release a thought from their mind. I do believe it helps us give release to one another when we read and know about other people's stuff. And it even cleanses us when we go before God with things that we need help with. Check out the site if you get a chance.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Praise God for His Word!

I have heard this passage whispered softly in my ears by the Holy Spirit tonight. There are no words for what happens to my heart when the LORD speaks to me. I pray that you may find shelter in the wings of the Almighty where ever you are reading this at. Though the LORD causes us grief at times in life, "those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy." Though He afflicted the world with sin, He did so with unspeakable grief sowing for us the things necessary to make a redemption possible. And though sorrowful at times, we are reaping the Joy of the LORD more and more each day until He comes. Praise God for His unfailing love.

1 "At that time," declares the LORD, "I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they will be my people."

2 This is what the LORD says:
"The people who survive the sword
will find favor in the desert;
I will come to give rest to Israel."

3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
"I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

4 I will build you up again
and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel.
Again you will take up your tambourines
and go out to dance with the joyful.

5 Again you will plant vineyards
on the hills of Samaria;
the farmers will plant them
and enjoy their fruit.

6 There will be a day when watchmen cry out
on the hills of Ephraim,
'Come, let us go up to Zion,
to the LORD our God.' "

7 This is what the LORD says:
"Sing with joy for Jacob;
shout for the foremost of the nations.
Make your praises heard, and say,
'O LORD, save your people,
the remnant of Israel.'

8 See, I will bring them from the land of the north
and gather them from the ends of the earth.
Among them will be the blind and the lame,
expectant mothers and women in labor;
a great throng will return.

9 They will come with weeping;
they will pray as I bring them back.
I will lead them beside streams of water
on a level path where they will not stumble,
because I am Israel's father,
and Ephraim is my firstborn son.

10 "Hear the word of the LORD, O nations;
proclaim it in distant coastlands:
'He who scattered Israel will gather them
and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.'

11 For the LORD will ransom Jacob
and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.

12 They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion;
they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD—
the grain, the new wine and the oil,
the young of the flocks and herds.
They will be like a well-watered garden,
and they will sorrow no more.

13 Then maidens will dance and be glad,
young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into gladness;
I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.

14 I will satisfy the priests with abundance,
and my people will be filled with my bounty,"
declares the LORD.

15 This is what the LORD says:
"A voice is heard in Ramah,
mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because her children are no more."

16 This is what the LORD says:
"Restrain your voice from weeping
and your eyes from tears,
for your work will be rewarded,"
declares the LORD.
"They will return from the land of the enemy.

17 So there is hope for your future,"
declares the LORD.
"Your children will return to their own land.

18 "I have surely heard Ephraim's moaning:
'You disciplined me like an unruly calf,
and I have been disciplined.
Restore me, and I will return,
because you are the LORD my God.

19 After I strayed,
I repented;
after I came to understand,
I beat my breast.
I was ashamed and humiliated
because I bore the disgrace of my youth.'

20 Is not Ephraim my dear son,
the child in whom I delight?
Though I often speak against him,
I still remember him.
Therefore my heart yearns for him;
I have great compassion for him,"
declares the LORD.

21 "Set up road signs;
put up guideposts.
Take note of the highway,
the road that you take.
Return, O Virgin Israel,
return to your towns.

22 How long will you wander,
O unfaithful daughter?
The LORD will create a new thing on earth—
a woman will surround a man."

23 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "When I bring them back from captivity, the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: 'The LORD bless you, O righteous dwelling, O sacred mountain.' 24 People will live together in Judah and all its towns—farmers and those who move about with their flocks. 25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint."

26 At this I awoke and looked around. My sleep had been pleasant to me.

27 "The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will plant the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the offspring of men and of animals. 28 Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant," declares the LORD. 29 "In those days people will no longer say,
'The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children's teeth are set on edge.'

30 Instead, everyone will die for his own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—his own teeth will be set on edge.

31 "The time is coming," declares the LORD,
"when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.

32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,"
declares the LORD.

33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time," declares the LORD.
"I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.

34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,"
declares the LORD.
"For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more."

35 This is what the LORD says,
he who appoints the sun
to shine by day,
who decrees the moon and stars
to shine by night,
who stirs up the sea
so that its waves roar—
the LORD Almighty is his name:

36 "Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,"
declares the LORD,
"will the descendants of Israel ever cease
to be a nation before me."

37 This is what the LORD says:
"Only if the heavens above can be measured
and the foundations of the earth below be searched out
will I reject all the descendants of Israel
because of all they have done,"
declares the LORD.

38 "The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when this city will be rebuilt for me from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 The measuring line will stretch from there straight to the hill of Gareb and then turn to Goah. 40 The whole valley where dead bodies and ashes are thrown, and all the terraces out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far as the corner of the Horse Gate, will be holy to the LORD. The city will never again be uprooted or demolished."

(Jeremiah 31 NIV)

The Lord Will Keep His Covenant

But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me."

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me. "

"Remember these things, O Jacob,
for you are my servant, O Israel.
I have made you, you are my servant;
O Israel, I will not forget you.

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
for I have redeemed you."

(Isaiah 49:14-16; 44:21,22 NIV)

One of the most powerful things I have learned about my relationship with God is that it is He who keeps covenant with us. While genuine change must take place in our lives as Christians to show that we are His, it is all an act of Grace. From the very beginning to the very end God sustains the relationship.

"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day." (John 6:37-39 NIV)

Before time began, God the Father made a covenant with the Son and the Holy Spirit that the Father would elect people from every nation to be "to the praise of His glorious grace" (see Eph. 1). It was in His mind before we even had the chance to sin. Paul says something interesting about this in one place in the New Testament.

"So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (2 Timothy 1:8-10 NIV)

The grace Paul is talking about is the grace of salvation that God has for His children. It was in God's mind before the world began and was His aim in the creation in the world. His plan of redemption, at least from the view of eternity, was finished before the world was even created.

Even though this work was finished before time, it wasn't until around 2,000 years ago that Jesus died on the Cross and said "It is finished" on earth and a large number of people saw the revelation of God in Christ in a much fuller picture. Even today it is sometimes hard to grasp that God has not left us in the mess we find ourselves in or forgotten us.

There have been moments in my life when I wondered if Jesus ascended back to heaven and forgot us here on earth. The plan of the Church seemed like a futile idea to me and I felt so helpless that "this is who He left to do His work". Knowing myself and the condition of others in the Body, I wondered how God would ever accomplish His purposes and that He might as well give up and come back if He had only people like me to work with. The constant nagging feelings of many people wondering where God is and if He has forgotten them are not uncommon to even the most godly saints who have walked the earth.

But in these times, we need to look to a God who has all of history in His hands and know that He had us in His mind to be an inheritance for His Son before the ages began. We are so precious to God to bringing Him the most glory. The writer of Hebrews says:

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb. 12:2 NIV)

Jesus had joy to purchase His Bride and is patiently awaiting for His Inheritance to come to Him at the consumation of the Age.

The Father had planned this from the start and The Son paid such a high price for us that He "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!" (Phil. 2:6-8 NIV)

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me. "
(Isaiah 49:15,16 NIV)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Thoughts for the Day

"Fight for us, O God, that we not drift numb and blind and foolish into vain and empty excitements. Life is too short, too precious, too painful to waste on worldly bubbles that burst. Heaven is too great, hell is too horrible, eternity is too long that we should putter around on the porch of eternity." ~ John Piper

I found this quote amazing and wanted to also put a song below that hit me pretty hard when I heard it.

Well, it looks like five thousand miles broke the camel's back
But it's not as though i had a plan to win you back
Because i don't know what i want
But at least i know that much
Now I'm afraid love came right up
And it slapped me in the face, but i did not know

'Cause love is different than you'd think
It's never in a song or on a TV screen
And love is harder than a word
Said at the right time and everything's alright
Love is different than you think

So I won't expect a postcard from Trafalgar Square
But I'd be lying if i said I didn't care
Because you can't just turn it off
And put a blindfold on your heart
But i'm off to a good start
A continent away, but i do not know

But maybe you're the dream i'm waking from
'Cause I see you everywhere I go
Darlin' you are such a mystery to me, you know

- Caedmon's Call

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Christ Church

I am blown away by how God can surprise us in unexpected ways and how strongly we can enter into His presence when the Church gathers according to The Word. Sunday night will probably be the most unforgetable night of my life. There are some moments in time that are burned into your mind, moments that you never will forget. That night was definitely one of them.

The Anglican Mission in the America's movement started from the church in Rwanda and is helping to fight the spiritual genocide that is slowly killing us like gangrene in America. They have a church plant in Winston Salem that I found out about through a friend. It was "random" how I learned about it considering all that was on my heart and mind involving things related to that.

I went to one of their meetings on Sunday night and was blown away. I had no idea what to expect and was curious to see what it would be like. Growing up in the Moravian Church for most of my life and now being a part of a church plant that is a lot different from that has sometimes left me longing for more biblical worship but not really knowing what that is. Often times I have participated in many types of services and have been left wondering if anything we sung or said or did in the service was really even close to what was true and pleasing to God. Sometimes I got a lot of "spirit" out of worship but no truth and other times I got truth but no Spirit. It was so different being in a place where there was such a strong presence of both.

The service was very ordered and structured in a traditional manner and the pastors even wore white vestments during the service. There was the reading of the Word, liturgy, prayer, the preaching of the Word and Communion. Some of the prayers were even read and not spontaneous. I am a person that will easily turn my nose up at written prayers for worship but there was such a strong presence of God in all of the things in the service that I was blown away that I could feel touched by God by something I used to think of as dead. Tradition does not at all mean being dead to me. One of the most awesome things it that there was no real emotionalism that made things seem better or more real than it actually was. It was very ordinary in all senses of the word on a human level. No flashing lights, no lulling music to produce any type of feeling, just the ordinary means of worship with people who obviously knew God in a deep way. People would be singing along with the songs with hands raised and hearts so in awe of God.

Even though there was definitely a strong structure to the service, everyone had a role in the service. It did not feel like the people "leading" were the audience. It felt as though we were there to join in on the worship of heaven to God and to confess how much we need Him; an Audience of One, if you will. People from the congregation read the Scripture reading for the week, led some of the liturgy, led the time of open pray where certain topics were mentioned for us to pray about and we could pray as we felt led and confession to God.

During the time of open prayer there was a man who prayed the most godly prayer I have ever heard for political leaders. He prayed for all of the Presidential candidates by name and he did it in a way that showed a genuine desire for God to move. 1 Timothy 2:1-6 talks about this.

1"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time." (NIV)

I am so thankful that people are sticking to what they believe God is calling them to do and how they need to worship Him. Praise God for the Anglican Mission in America and for Christ Church in Winston Salem who is providing people with unique opportunities for ministry and worship in the community. It was the most profound experience I have ever had in worship and hope that every time we come together as a Body we can experience such a richness from God every time. Please continue to pray for this mighty group that has been embraced by God and is going out in the Spirit of Christ to reach those who need the Good News.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Theology Worldview Quiz

I found an online quiz about what theological worldviews people lean towards. If anyone is interested, take it and let me know about the results. I found mine pretty accurate for the most part. I do not think too much about heaven or hell so much as that I think about people already living in hell on earth seperated from God. The experience we have on earth is nothing like what is to come both in the good and bad things to come in the destinies of people after life. I can relate more to thinking about what I know (i.e. life on earth) rather than something that the Bible itself is not too clear about. It definitely relates heaven and hell to things we know on earth but I doubt that it could ever really give us a grasp of really understanding the fullness of it.

You scored as Reformed Evangelical

You are a Reformed Evangelical. You take the Bible very seriously because it is God's Word. You most likely hold to TULIP and are sceptical about the possibilities of universal atonement or resistible grace. The most important thing the Church can do is make sure people hear how they can go to heaven when they die.

Reformed Evangelical


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox






Modern Liberal


Roman Catholic




Classical Liberal