Almost Christian?

Blurry People

I grew up…”Christian”.  I have a Christian name, grew up in a Christian home, and learned my abc’s shortly after memorizing the 66 books of the bible.  Just kidding… I actually learned my abc’s first; the books of the bible came shortly thereafter.

Continue reading Almost Christian?

Open Door Equals Smooth Road… Doesn’t It?

photo-1444047427283-88a67f631b3e

 

Have you ever assumed that the “open door” equals a “smooth road” equation? In other words, when a new possibility, direction, or opportunity seems to have come your way, does it mean that once you take up the opportunity or walk through that door that it will be smooth sailing?

I find that many well-intentioned Christians, living in America in 2015, answer that question with a strong, “YES”!

Continue reading Open Door Equals Smooth Road… Doesn’t It?

Why The Planned Parenthood Video Should NOT Surprise Anyone, And Why It SHOULD Appall Everyone

 

ultrasound

Let’s get right to it.

1.)  Not Surprised

I don’t think we should be surprised by the two undercover Planned Parenthood videos that have been released. When I first viewed the videos, I was speechless. What we see being discussed casually over a salad and wine is absolutely deplorable. Is it illegal? Yes!  Is it amoral? Absolutely! Have we lost our minds as a society? Most certainly! But, is it surprising? I don’t think so.

Continue reading Why The Planned Parenthood Video Should NOT Surprise Anyone, And Why It SHOULD Appall Everyone

Comfortable In Our Own Skin

zebra-migration

 

Christian, are you comfortable in your own skin?

You gotta love the apostle Paul! He was comfortable in his own skin, meaning, he knew who he was and what he believed. He knew what he was saved from, he knew his Savior, and he made no excuses for it. Paul did not set out to offend. But, neither did he water down truth… A watered down truth is no longer….truth. Sometimes, truth offends.

So I ask you again: Christian, are you comfortable in your own skin?

What was the result for Paul being true to who he was and what he believed?

It was lashings, periods of time in prison, his friends abandoned him, and so much more.

But, like a beaten boxer, he kept getting back up to be “hit” again.

What drove Paul?

Was he ever tempted to give up the fight and call it a day?

We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,

(1 Corinthians 1:23 ESV)

Paul understood that to some, his preaching of Christ crucified would be a stumbling block or foolishness, and he seemed to be ok with that.

We want a salvation that does not offend my desires, and a Savior who not only accepts me “just as I am” but accepts my ongoing blatant rebellion against Him as well.

Why was Paul ok with preaching the Word that caused stumbling blocks and was viewed to be folly? The next verse tells us why.

but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:24 ESV)

Christ crucified was what drove this man. He was a man aware of the death to life reality for himself. Once Saul (persecutor of the church) now Paul (church planter, preacher, evangelist, and inmate).

  • Christ crucified is what he knew.
  • Christ crucified is what landed him in prison
  • Christ crucified was a stumbling block to the Jews
  • Christ crucified was foolishness to the Greeks
  • But that was ok to Paul, because Christ crucified was also the power of God to salvation.

We live in a day where pastors and church leaders are seeking to make God’s Word more palatable. Palatable is good…. isn’t it?  Yes and No.  Yes, because we need to help people understand God’s Word. And no, because we are not at liberty to change or to water down God’s Word to conform to this world.

And this is where we get it wrong. God’s Word calls us to conform to the Word, rather than the Word conforming to the world. Sadly, ours is a day when believers water down the Word to help the Word conform to the world.

When the Word and the World collide, we are to go with the Word!

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

(Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

3 Reasons why we are conforming more to the world than to the Word.

1.) The desire for growth. So strong is the desire today to be a pastor, or a member, of a large church that compromise soon follows. In the name of adding people, many are willing to compromise God’s Word.

Sure, I want the church to grow just as much as the next guy! However, we have to ask ourselves: Is the addition of people that comes from watering down the truth of God’s Word actual growth?

While it may be growing “our” kingdom, we must consider, is the kind of growth we are experiencing in our churches, growing God’s Kingdom?

I submit to you that if it is built on the world rather than the Word, it is not growing God’s Kingdom.

This is, perhaps, worse than no growth at all?  If we are adding people to a false gospel and to man’s kingdom, are we not serving ourselves rather than God?

People might be added, but not converted.

I often hear: “you can’t argue with success.” Which means, because there are a lot of people attending, God must be blessing the church. How foolish that we define success with a number of people in a room as opposed to what the Bible clearly states.

(For example: Matthew 28:19-20)

2.) Because of fear

Difficult days lie ahead for the church in America. I am afraid that Christians are afraid. We fear people, government, and political correctness more than we fear God. We lust to be accepted and approved by people.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

(Galatians 1:10 ESV)

Now, that is a man comfortable in his own skin. When preachers toe the line of political correctness, they do so out of fear of man rather than fear of God.

3.) Because we have forgotten

We have forgotten that Christ calls us to “deny ourself, and take up our cross and follow Him.”  We want an easy salvation, one that requires no repentance, no change, and no Savior. Christianity 101 calls us to repent from our sin. The church then is not called to make life more comfortable for us in our sinfulness. The church is a place of repentance and transformation.

And, nothing less than Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection makes this possible!

Unspectacularly Spectacular

autumn-contrast

 

Is your Christianity….Spectacular? NO? Well, why not? Where is your faith? What is wrong with you?

That was the email thread that I was engaged in years ago, and I seem to be re-engaged in of late. And, it is a theme that God seems to be keeping in front of me for much of this past year.

So, here are more questions to help you get the gears moving:

  • Do miracles follow you?
  • Has anyone come up to you in the last week, month, year – heck, has ANYONE EVER come up to you and asked you: “What must I do to be saved?”
  • How is your time in prayer?  Is it daily dynamite?
  • Do you regularly operate in the spectacular gifts of the Spirit?
  • For pastors who are reading this blog…..  Are you just an “average” pastor who is leading an “average” church?
  • Are you slaying the dragon of the flesh in such a way as to be the perfect model of Godliness?
  • Is your salvation story one that grabs everyone’s attention?

See past blog post: To All Those With A Boring Testimony

And the list goes on….  Christianity in our day lusts for the spectacular under every rock. But, what if yours and/or my Christian walk with God is just…. average? What if the spectacular, as we define it, avoids you like the plague? Are we to think we are something of a “lesser” kind of follower of Christ?

2 Quick Examples of UN-spectacular followers of Christ:

1.)  Simeon of Luke 2.

So, tell me…. who is this Simeon guy? What great things can you tell me about him? What has he done for the Christian faith? Did he write scripture, or heal a blind man, or perhaps he preached and 1,000’s came to saving faith? Surely, he did something spectacular to make his way into the Word of God.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God…..”

(Luke 2:25-28 ESV)

That’s it?!?

This is all we have on this guy Simeon. No record of the miraculous or radical faith. Simeon is anything but spectacular. I am sure you and I have read this story many times without even pausing to consider this man.

And I am wondering……. Why?

Well, Simeon is not amazing enough to capture our attention.

So, now nearing the end of his life Simeon holds Jesus in his arms and…. (ready for this?) HE BLESSES GOD!  Are you kidding me?!? I try, in vain, to imagine the joy of this moment for the faithful plodder, Simeon.

Listen to a sermon on Simeon here: iPlod.

Simeon has been faithful. He has consistently waited on God to move like His Word said He would in Malachi 3.

Exciting? Spectacular?

At first blush, I think not! But upon closer and further review, nothing could be further from the truth. You see, in our lust for the “spectacular” today we seem to be missing something of what it means to follow Christ.

Let’s reconsider the Simeon. Simeon is a man who waited on God his entire life! He is surrounded by apostasy. The religious leaders of the day are leading people away from God, in the name of God.

This is where we find Simeon. He is trusting in the Word of God that was given to the prophet 400 years prior! He is faithfully….. waiting!  Perhaps waiting is more spectacular than we first thought! When no move of God is taking place, Simeon waits and waits and waits some more. When no hope of a Messiah is before him, he waits. Why? Because God’s Word promised a Savior would come! Now, when life has nearly passed him by and he now is nearing his own death, Simeon is found faithfully doing what? Waiting for the Savior! Wow!

If that is not spectacular, what is?

O, that it would be said of you and me that we faithfully waited for the Lord to our dying day!

Nicolaus_ludwig_graf_zu_zinzendorf
Preach the gospel, die and be forgotten. Nicholaus von Zinzendorf

2.) Timothy

How unspectacular is Timothy’s conversion!?!

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

(2 Timothy 1:5 ESV)

Timothy, it seems, was taught the gospel at a young age. He has a gospel heritage that he grew up in that came from momma and grandma. What a gift! But, Timothy’s conversion is not exactly a “go to” conversion story. We would rather look to Saul, who is persecuting the church, knocked off his donkey, meets Jesus, blinded, etc…!  Now that is a conversion story, right?

Well, yes. But, is Paul’s conversion any more spectacular than the next guy? Does Paul’s conversion require more grace or more substitution or more of Jesus than Timothy’s? When we create these categories of what is and is not spectacular, are we not dismissing the spectacular hand of God, the very glory of God?

It matters how we think about these things. If waiting for Jesus to come the first time (Simeon) is unspectacular then waiting for Him to come the second time (me and you) will be plain vanilla as well.  If your salvation story is unspectacular (in your mind), your view of Christ’s sacrifice for you will lack luster as well.

Join with me and pause today:

  • Thanking God for your average Christian life, seeking to follow Christ to your dying day.
  • Thanking God for your conversion. He saved you, me, Paul, and Timothy from the: “wages of sin is death…”

 

To All Those With A Boring Testimony

boy bored

What did God save you from?

How did He rescue you from death to life, darkness to light, slave of sin to freedom in Christ?

I have heard it said by some that they do not have much of a testimony. It’s, well…..boring! Nothing radical or earth shattering. Not much worth talking about.

She said: “My testimony is simple and dull. I grew up in a Godly home that taught the truths of God’s Word. I believed at a young age. No great rebellion, addictions, or prison stories. Just a Godly family, growing up in a church, and hearing about Jesus. It just can not get any more boring as far as testimonies go!”

The above describes me pretty well too, except the boring part!

Here is part of my testimony and the radical nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I was born to a Godly mom and dad who themselves grew up in Godly homes. I think I probably heard the gospel before I left the birthing room.  (Just Kidding…maybe….)

My parents loved God and sought to raise their two boys with an understanding of who God is and what He had done for them on the cross. I can not even tell you the exact point in time that I first repented of my sins and made Christ the Savior of my soul.

(Some would say – “that is not good, you should know….”  Which is…..Ridiculous!)

I can not tell you of a great moment of guilt and shame. I just knew, at a young age, I was a sinner who needed a Savior. Our family attended the same church for 17 years. It was there that I continued to learn about Christ. I had an amazing brother and Godly friends: (Jeff Merwin, Doug Shackelford, Joel Schwalbe, Kyle Brinkman, Jason and Matt Hoag, and all those who were a part of the Rock House – back in the day!) We were a far from perfect crowd! Each with our own level of boring to amazing testimonies. Along the way, I have also sat under some wonderful, Godly pastors. (Alex Clattenburg, Rod Carlson, Fred Franks, Wayne Brooks – I am very grateful for you men!)

Here is my point: We dismiss the radical, amazing grace of God when we view ANY testimony as boring. Is any salvation anything less than amazing grace? Are some who go from death to life more glorious than another? Does not every salvation reveal the life shattering glory of God!?!

When we think in terms of a boring salvation, we belittle saving grace and we dismiss the cross on which He died to accomplish our salvation.

How is it that we can think of ANY testimony as not Amazing Grace? Is Christ’s sacrifice on the cross a radical sacrifice to only a few?

Yes, I grew up in a Godly home. But, I did not choose that home. Nor could my parents or myself conjure up a salvation. Parents, friends, and pastors could not produce in me a heart for God.

God, took this sinner that was bent to sin and He saved me. He did that! Not my parents or my friends or my pastors. God used them all, and I am grateful for them all! But, at the end of the day, God moved on my heart and took a soul that was once an enemy of God and made me His son. Had God not impressed on me my need to repent and believe in Jesus as the Savior of my sins, I would not be saved.

This IS radical. It is not natural, it is supernatural. It is not human, it is nothing less than the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit bringing about my salvation.

God saved me with His ordinary grace, and God’s ordinary grace is always radical grace!

Boring? I do not think so!

Radical?  Yes!

Every life that is brought from darkness to light is nothing less than: Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!

 

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

(Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV)

Have you ever thought your testimony wasn’t good enough?

Or, have you ever embellished your story a little to make it, well, radical?

If so, be free from the nonsense and celebrate the amazing, radical, grace of God in your salvation story!

 

 

What’s The Point?

Study Time

I don’t know how you read books, but when I start into a new book I try to ascertain, as quickly as possible, what is the point? Yep, that’s all folks…. I want to know why did the author write this book? And, I want to know why…. fast!

I want to microwave my book – cook it fast!  What can I say…. I am an American.

Usually one can find a purpose statement tucked in the introduction.  I hunt for that statement, sentence, or even a few sentences where the author lets us in on the reason he has spent countless, frustrating hours researching, writing, and laboring to bring all that work to a finish and into our lives.

And hey, I am just like you….. I am busy!  I need to know – and quick – is this book worth the time?

Me:  Why did you write this book?

Author:  Here is why I wrote this and where this book is headed.

Me:  Thank you for letting me know if I should put the book down and forget it or journey on with the author.

(By the way – some authors already have credibility and I pre-order the book knowing…. it will be worth my time and effort.  More on that later.)

I have a weird relationship with the author. I consider him / her my friend.  Yep, weird right?!? . But, I like to think of the book I have in front of me as a conversation.

Grab a coffee, grab my friend off the shelf and let’s chat. And when I think this way, I get to do coffee with Charles Spurgeon, or a theology with Edwards, fantasy with Lewis or Tolkien.  And, while I love to sit down with these friends!  It is hit or miss sometimes to do so on any given day.

BUT –  my every day goal and desire is to sit down with my Creator, Savior, Father, God!

Wow, are you kidding me?!? When I (when you) sit down to read the Bible, you are reading GOD’S WORD. You are sitting down with….. Almighty God!  Coffee nearby, pen in hand – God is right there with me/ you!

Back to where this post started.

The point of the Bible – from start to finish – is to lay out for us God’s plan for Redemption.

Here is a quick overview of the Bible.

  • God Creates…. Everything…. out of nothing!
  • His creation includes mankind.
  • Man, the created – rebels against the Creator.
  • As a result, man is now separated from the Creator.
  • The rest of the story line of Gods Word is HOW God Redeems (or removes the separation) between God and man.

We could say – the point of the whole Bible – is about: Redemption.  How will the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each work to bring about redemption of fallen man?

The Father Sends

The Son takes on human flesh and goes to the cross for our sins!  (Phil 2)

The Spirit quickens our hearts.

God’s Word in a nutshell.  Redemption.  The purpose of the Word of God, the purpose for our lives, and the reason the believer does not put the book down or ignore the glory it reveals.

The gospel is the Bible’s main message, and preaching the content of the Bible—that is, the prophetic anticipation of God’s redemptive purpose in Christ from the Old Testament and the apostolic witness to the accomplished work of Christ in the New Testament—unleashes the power of the gospel message and achieves its God-ordained end.

Bullmore, Mike (2011-08-02). The Gospel and Scripture: How to Read the Bible (The Gospel Coalition Booklets) (Kindle Locations 88-90). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

From start to finish, the consistent thread throughout the Word of God is REDEMPTION.

Everything prior to Jesus, looks forward to Jesus.  Everything post Jesus, looks back to Jesus.

Listen in on how John gives us the purpose statement for the gospel of John.

 “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).

How will sinful man be made right with God?

Well, therein lies the point of the whole book.  Jesus Christ is the Author AND He is the Answer!  He is the point. He is the reason we have a Bible and need a Bible. And friend, He is WORTH OUR TIME!  That is right,  He is WORTH it. Worth my / your time!  Worth the effort.

So, take up the book this year in 2015.  Grab a coffee and pen.  And get to know the Author and The Point of the whole book!

“You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. . . . And this word is the good news that was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:23–25).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is There A 3rd Option?

Benches

 

Proud Calvinism?!?

6 Signs of proud Calvinism

After these two blog posts (linked above) a friend asked:

“Two realities, which I personally struggle with, because they seem to be in tension are: How do you show this kind of humility while at the same time standing firm in the faith one for all delivered to the saints…aka, not being a sort of post-modern, uncertain, wavering, passive type of Christian.

I fear that I all-to-often sound like the proud Calvinist, but often the only alternative seems to be compromise and sounding like a post-modernist—you know, “we can’t really know the truth, so let’s just agree to disagree.”

 

Thanks for asking the question! I sure don’t want to come across as the guy who has this all figured out! Because, I don’t! But, I do have a couple thoughts that might be helpful, and if not helpful… there is a great little book listed at the end of the post.

First of all we need to recognize there are not two options. We need to know there is a third option.

We tend to think in 2 options:

Option 1:  Humility means watering down the message and convictions.  So to keep the peace, I need to be a “passive – keep the peace” Christian.

Option 2:  Arrogantly defend my views and convictions to the death of all future conversation.

Option 1 is not helpful as it misses truth.

Option 2 is not healthy as it misses grace.  Can you hear the clanging cymbals that Paul writes about in I Corinthians 13.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV)

Now while the context of I Corinthians 13 is NOT chatting theology with a friend.  However, there is a helpful application of the text for us.

How sad, the Corinthian church was gifted, but their lack of love seems to be noise in the ears of everyone around them. Option 2 is not a good option.

But is that all?  Might there be another option?  This is where a person may have the “right” argument but he presents them it in the “wrong” way. (Sounds like my parenting at times!)

We don’t want to just be “right”. It is not simply about being “right” – we need to communicate what is right and do so in the “right” way.

So that…. we realize – This conversation is not only about the message, but our character in delivering that message matters as well!

In a similar way:  The Corinthians had the “right” gifts but they used them in the “wrong” way? So Paul basically tells them to knock it off!

There is a 3rd option.

Option 3:  Humility that flows from the gospel.  (Truth and Grace)

1.) The Gospel Informs The Conversation:

Think about it: When we present the gospel, arrogantly….  we are disconnected from the very gospel we are presenting. How odd is that? It should stop us in our tracks.

The gospel is humbling! We are sinners, separated from God. God in His mercy sent His Son to die for our sins and redeem us. We were not smart enough to figure this out nor are we holy enough to deserve it. Rather, God in His unfathomable mercy drew us, saved us, chose us!

“For by grace you were saved and this is not of your own doing, it is the gift of God….” Ephesians 2:8-9

How in the world does my pride crawl into that?

The truth of the gospel informs our character in the midst of the conversation, even when we disagree, we can disagree with humility.  Because Christ dying for undeserving sinners is… humbling.

Disagreeing with a brother arrogantly is a disagreement that is disconnected from the Gospel itself.

We want to let the gospel not only be the content of the conversation, but allow the gospel to inform your heart in the conversation.

Is it possible for a believer to blast a friend with ones supposed superior knowledge AND be affected by the gospel at the same time….?  I don’t know – because I have never been able to pull that one-off!  :-)

2.) The Sovereignty of God releases me.

Isn’t it great! I am NOT the Holy Spirit! And neither are you!

Last time I checked there was no job opening in the Trinity.

This is wonderfully liberating. I don’t have to convince someone of my convictions. I do not feel the need to win an argument. It is ok, God is able to reveal Himself to this person. And, since I DO NOT have it all figured out… God is able to take care of me too!

By the way, isn’t it funny how it can take years to become convinced of something. God is kind and He is soooo patient with us. But, eventually God works in our hearts and change soon follows.

How weird is it then that what takes us years,  we turn around and demand someone to “get on board” with what we are saying in a 30 minute coffee chat?

“How’s come they don’t get it?”

It’s ok – chill out – Tim!

I love it when Paul says in Philippians 3:

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. (Philippians 3:14-15 ESV)

What a relief, the apostle Paul seems to release himself from this burden and turns it over to God.  That does not mean that Paul waters down his convictions or refrains from the truth.

3.) My knowledge is not all that!

We think so highly of ourselves, don’t we?!? We read a bit, study some things, and think we have it all figured out. I wonder how much we really have figured out.

I think it is likely that we will all have a lot of “ah ha” moments in heaven!!!!

Lastly, I think we would do well to remember this does not need to be the end of the conversation. There are times when the stakes are high and the truth must be defended. But, even in that, I want to make sure that the person that sits across the table from me knows that I love him and care about him. If we want there to be a future conversation than the arrogance and noisy gong is not going to help.

Book Recommendation:

This is a liGrace and Truth Paradoxttle book that I have gone back to often.

Grace and Truth Paradox By Randy Alcorn

 

 

 

 

God With Us And The Cultural Yawn

manger

John 1:1-2
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

John 1:14
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…..

When Almighty God takes on human flesh…

When He is born miraculously of the virgin Mary….

When Herod tries to have Him killed as a newborn….

I don’t know…. when the Creator of the universe moves heaven and earth and takes on human flesh, maybe that is supposed to get our attention? And, I don’t mean a little bit – I mean grab our wholehearted, lifelong, enduring, and collective attention.

Perhaps when God moves heaven and earth, is born of a virgin, and takes on human flesh that maybe His intent was bigger than a lawn decoration during the Christmas season?

Jesus, born in the manger is to be more than: “Awww look at the cute baby in the manger.”  More than a decoration we might put in the front yard next to Santa, snoopy and the Grinch.

How is Christmas more than just a nice holiday and a few extra days off of work? Is Christmas more than a tree, presents, carols and shopping?

Think about WHO is in that manger!

GOD with us. If we do not know who it is that is in that manger, Christmas will be nothing more than just another holiday….and the manger will be just another decoration.

BUT:

God, Himself is in that manger!

The creator of the universe came!

The King of ALL kings has come!!!!!

Think about this:

200 years ago it was believed that there were some 6,000 stars in the universe. 200 years ago – 6,000 stars seemed like a lot of stars. Today astronomers believe there are more stars in the universe (that we know of) than there are grains of sand on all the beaches and deserts on the earth!

Uh…. wow!

The latest evidence shows us that there are between 100 and 200 BILLION galaxies in the universe each of them containing 100’s of billions of stars.

Amazing!?!

And the Bible just matter of factly states: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth….

But hold on a minute. Consider that this God who created all those stars (and everything else in the universe) has now come down and taken on human flesh.  God – in human flesh!!

As a culture we are easily impressed with actors, actresses, and athletes.

This past year George Clooney found himself in my small home town Titusville, Fl.  He was there to shoot scenes for the movie “Tomorrowland”.  As you might imagine, social media blew up in my hometown. Clooney sightings were being reported. Photos uploaded, rumors of sightings passed along, and on and on it goes.

“Did you hear Clooney is shooting scenes downtown?”

I just did a quick google search with the words: “george clooney filming in titusville fl”

My google search spit back at me 34,700 results! Wow!

My point? When George Clooney comes to small town Titusville it blows up.  Why? Well, it’s George Clooney! Duh!

What does it mean that the God of the universe, your Maker and mine, takes on human flesh, and is born as a baby in a manger, in the tiny town of Bethlehem?

For the most part, culture is indifferent to the manger. Some are blasphemous and many can be heard yawning. Can you hear the cultural yawn?

A long time ago – by the mercy of God – I traded the yawn in for worship!

Over these next few posts I hope you might read along and join with me to see the glory of that manger scene. Let’s trade the yawn in for worship!

Consider today:

It is GOD with us!

GOD came and took on human flesh

That cute baby in the manger….. it is GOD!

Praise Him!

 

 

 

“Truth Speaking” IS Relevant

truth

Isn’t “The Cry For Relevance”, by pastors and churches an effort to attract people to our churches?

And….. attracting people to our churches…. that is good, right?

But, in so doing, don’t we have to be extremely careful about our motives?

If we are seeking to build “our” kingdom come, Rather than “HIS” Kingdom come…. then perhaps not. But if Jesus is the King and it is His Kingdom that we are seeking to build…. perhaps, yes!?!

Recently,  Michael Paulson of The New York Times asked Brian Houston, (founder of the very popular Hillsong movement) a very simple question:

“Can your pastors preside at same-sex marriages?”

Houston replied (in part), “It can be challenging for churches to stay relevant. Because many mainstream churches upheld what they would believe is the long established view of what the Bible says about homosexuality. But the world has changed around and about them.”

He continued, “So the world’s changing and we want to stay relevant as a church. So that’s a vexing thing. You think, ‘How do we not become a pariah?'”

Yikes, it was a “yes” or “no” question….

Well, those statements kinda blew up and so……before the week was out, Pastor Houston issued a follow-up statement saying, “Nowhere in my answer did I diminish biblical truth or suggest that I or Hillsong Church supported gay marriage…. My personal view on the subject of homosexuality would line up with most traditionally held Christian views. I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject.”

Hmmmm…..ok, good…. I think…..  Much could be said here, but this post is not about the content of what he said.  Rather, the point I am seeking to address is this Cry For Relevance.  So, I press on…..

A few thoughts:

1.  I am NOT for:

  • I am NOT for irrelevance.
  • I have NO desire to drive people away from Christianity, the church, or Jesus Christ.  I don’t want to be pariah, either!
  • The goal is not to be as non – relevant as possible, offend people, or create a greater divide in our conversations.
  • I don’t want to unhelpfully create any more road blocks in ones understanding of true Christianity than already exists.
  • In light of the above, it needs to be said……  I do not hate gay or lesbians!
  • While, I disagree with that lifestyle choice, that does not mean I hate them nor does it mean that I discriminate against them.

My concern centers on this lustful desire for relevance. A problem which, Jesus Himself, did not concern Himself. Jesus never watered down His message.

Why? Because, Truth is…. truth.

While I am at it, I might as well potentially offend some Christians:  I take issue with those who shout from the street corner to the passerby’s with a pronounced arrogance and a lack of compassion and love, and do so in the name of truth. There is a reason that our culture, when speaking about Christians, say we are filled with “hate speech”. (Though that phrase is often tossed around to mean: hate speech is anything someone speaks out against what I am engaged in…)

That said….

2.  I AM for:

  • Speaking the truth in love
  • The above does not mean that the Christian should be silent!
  • Paul, in Ephesians 4 calls the believer to maturity when he says:

…..that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…  Ephesians 4:14-15

Consider:

  • Does a person who is not living for Christ need relevance or truth?
  • Does one exclude the other?
  • Isn’t truth…..well……. relevant?

Ultimately what is needed most is not my relevance, we need truth. And, that truth just so happens to be extremely relevant to the world we live in!  Where do we find truth?

The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord remains forever!

 

Trinity (5): True of False?

clover

We grasp in vain for “easy” Trinity explanations.  Most of the time our explanations fall short and our pictures… well, they are inaccurate representations of the glory of the Trinity!

True or False?

1.)  The Trinity is like having different names for one person:

This is False

Some say:  It is like a dad.  He is a dad, a husband, and sometimes he is an employee at work.  Different names for the one guy.  Dad / Husband / Employee.  Simple…. Right?  Wrong….

This misses the glory of the Trinity.  The Trinity is NOT 1 God with 3 roles.  The Trinity is 1 God 3 persons and each of the 3 persons is fully God.

  • One God
  • 3 Persons
  • All Fully God

Lets try another True or False:

2.)  The 3 leaf clover:

The Trinity is like a 3 leaf clover.  3 parts and yet it is 1 clover.

This is False.

Yes, the 3 leaves each make up the one clover, but each leaf is only part of the clover.  The Trinity contains a greater glory!  The Trinity is: each part of the God-head does not make up a separate part (leaf).  Rather, each aspect – Father / Son / Holy Spirit is fully God!  Each is fully God!  Uhhhh WOW!

3.)  The Trinity is like H20:  Steam / Water / Ice  True or false?

This is false.

This is false because H20 is not fully water, fully steam, or fully ice at the same time.  Rather, each has its own properties and its own characteristics.  Once again, the glory of the Trinity supersedes our attempts to contain it with our human analogies.

So, what analogy can we pull from?  Well, actually the Bible does not give us an analogy.  Maybe that is because any analogy diminishes the glory of the Trinity?!?.

Certainly, we see the Bible teach about God the Father (and we get what a father is) and Jesus is God’s Son (and we get that too).  But, we fail to make the full connection.  We might say:  I am a father to my children and at the same time I am a son to my parents.  But, even still, I am never a father to my parents or a son to my children.

There are other variations that shoot off of the above examples, but you get the idea.

1 God / 3 persons / Fully God = mystery!  

No human analogy is going to match it.  We strive in vain for a human illustration to match the glory of the Trinity. But, if there were an illustration that could rightly contain it…..  the Trinity would take on a lesser glory!

Once again:  1 God – 3 persons – all are fully God.

Do you struggle with the mysteries found in God?  While we want to wrestle with who God is, I would encourage you to glory in the mysteries of God.  Those mysteries further reveal we are NOT God!  There is a Creator and we are the created.  He is without limits and we are limited.

How big is your Trinity?  Is it big enough to wow you?  Or have you reduced to your created minds ability to contain it?

Praise Him!

 

*  Credit is given to Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware on much of the above.  While, the above is not a quote from either of them, none the less, they and others have formed much of my thoughts and examples given.