The Gloryscope

On Monday, August 21st, an eclipse of the sun will take place across North America. This will be the first total solar eclipse to cross the United States in ninety-nine years. Eclipse chasers will set up camp and wait for those few moments of what Astronomers call totality. It is a moment of awe, a rare event of glory.

Continue reading The Gloryscope

Mystery of Mysteries

I like a good mystery!  Not the predictable sort; I like the ones that challenge the mind and stretch the imagination. The kind you almost feel like you have to work for to understand.

There is a mystery found in God’s Word. It is the ultimate mystery – A mystery of mysteries. No earthly mystery compares to the mystery of the gospel! Sadly, we do not dwell on the contents or the characters of the mystery enough. But when people do, I find the response is either worship or rebellion. Some behold the mystery and worship, while others grow angry and defiant.

In considering both responses, let’s first unpack the mystery.

Continue reading Mystery of Mysteries

Grace, The God Who Is More

 

Man stands by the edge of the water.  Landscape of a mountain stream.

Grace, she takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

Bono, U2

All of life teaches us to earn.  We earn a paycheck, a grade, or even a reward… all are based on our performance.  Performance, Performance, Performance.  When it comes down to it, our culture says, “This is what matters.” Parents, marriages, workplace, churches, and all the rest wraps itself in rewards. Society shouts performance. Evaluations by peers and evaluation of ourselves is all blanketed in performance.

And so, when we come to an understanding of grace, it is not surprising that we hiccup!

Continue reading Grace, The God Who Is More

The Cultural Yawn Of Christmas

Nativity

The below is a bit of a repost and re-working of an article I wrote last year.

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…..

The Almighty God took on human flesh…

He was born miraculously of the virgin Mary….

Herod tried to have Him killed as a newborn….

Continue reading The Cultural Yawn Of Christmas

The King is a Servant

Serving

 

I loved to be served. Actually, don’t we all?

Have you noticed that nobody had to teach you to enjoy being served? It comes very natural to me. Maybe it is my gift? Tim, gifted by God to be……. served. Hmmmm, I like it.  :-)

But serving others is another story. Because serving is well….. serving.

Continue reading The King is a Servant

Q and A With Jesus

coffee-machine-1500x1000

 

Wouldn’t you love to grab a cup of coffee with Jesus? Sometimes I think…. “wow, there were real, living, people that spent time with Him!  Asking Him questions and hearing Him teach. It was during those moments that Jesus regularly offended the religious leaders of His day. They did not like the idea

Continue reading Q and A With Jesus

Hungry?

mcdonalds-clock-billboard-small-25409-468x262

“What we hunger for most, we worship”  John Piper A Hunger For God

Funny isn’t it?  Marketing, at it’s best, goes right after our bellies.

Sprite

snickers

 

I could add more images, but you get the idea.

Have you considered the hunger of the soul?

I enjoy reading most anything written by John Piper. But, there is one of his books that calls me back again and again. It probably calls me back because it strikes a chord in my soul.

Disclosure:

I do not hunger for God like I ought or like I want.

My soul is sloppy

My flesh is lazy

And my comfort is always…. always calling.

So, I find myself going back to Pipers book: A Hunger For God.

It is a book about fasting.  NO, wait!  Don’t stop reading! I know……Most of us don’t want to read about fasting.  Neither do I!

Don’t worry, this post won’t bite!

I wonder, why is it that we run from fasting? Might it be because we don’t really understand fasting or that we view it wrongly?

I have a very simple answer as to why I run from the topic. I don’t like the subject because…I LIKE TO EAT. I enjoy…. filling my stomach with really good food! Why, in the world would anyone in their right mind fast?  I LOVE FOOD. I love it – I want more of it, not less.

A blog post on fasting? Seriously, what is that all about?

Here are a couple favorite quotes from the book. I post these quotes and it is my prayer that they might begin to stir our hearts, our hunger for God.

  • “The discipline of self – denial is fraught with dangers – perhaps only surpassed by the dangers of indulgence.”

I hope to do a future post on this. Legalism abounds when it comes to fasting…. but so does the indulgence of non – fasting.

  • “What we hunger for most, we worship”

 

  • “Desire for other things – there’s the enemy. And the only weapon that will triumph is a deeper hunger for God. The weakness of our hunger for God is not because he is unsavory, but because we keep ourselves stuffed with ‘other things'”

 

  • “When God is the supreme hunger of our hearts, he will be supreme in everything.”

 

“Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is nothing upon earth besides thee. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalms 73:25-26

 

  • “The birthplace of Christian fasting is homesickness for God.”

My all time favorite quote:

  • “The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison by apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but the endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night.”

It isn’t because my life is empty that my hunger for God wavers. No, it is because it is full.

How about you?

Is your life…. full?  Is your soul….full?

If your answer is yes: What one change can you make to begin to fill your soul (not with the things of this world) but with the things of God?

 

Rat Race Theology

StateLibQld_1_115548_Large_crowds_of_people_in_Albert_Square,_Brisbane,_watch_the_men_of_the_Seventh_Division,_1944k

Have you noticed our culture idolizes the Rat Race?

When was the last time you asked someone how they are doing and they did not answer with: “I’ve been busy”

Isn’t that the standard American answer? We are all… busy. The Rat Race is defined by busyness and achievement. We must multitask. Buy more technology to get more things done, faster. Do more with less time. Go to bed later and get up earlier.

For, achievement is our god.

The Rat Race is what we love. Because in the Rat Race we find importance, identity, and even value. Think about it.  Don’t we think more highly of those who are leading the pack in the Rat Race?

Average is weakness in the Rat Race.

Ordinary is not good enough.

Rat Race theology says: You must take this ordinary, average life and make it better. Average? Nope! That won’t do.

“In a culture that rhapsodizes over every achievement and idolizes many of those who stand out, it is easy for the church to drink from the same intoxicating elixir and swoon over gifted expectations.”  D.A. Carson

This drives people to find a new city, get a new job, or land a new spouse. Because, the old one…. well, it’s not that it’s bad it’s just… average.

Reinvent yourself

Make a splash

Work more hours

Gotta get ahead

Are you buying into the Rat Race Theology?

our-greatest-fear

Last year I was on vacation with my family. (By the way, have you noticed we can bring the Rat Race on vacation with us? What is wrong with us!?) We had some in between down time. The idiot box, I mean the TV, was in front of us and my youngest popped it on. The Lego Movie had just begun. I had not heard of the Lego Movie and when it came on I assumed it was going to be dumb.

Have you seen it?

It is incredible! Instantly we were all laughing.

Favorite part?

The driving song of the movie. “Everything is Awesome!” If you have seen the movie than you know what I amLego Movie talking about. When you read the title, you probably smiled a little. In the world of Lego, Everything is Awesome, which means… nothing is.

It is also the theme song of the Rat Race. Everything is awesome. God forbid, we or something we are engaged in, is not….awesome. What if our careers and dreams are just… average. How incredibly terrible would that be!

What if at the end of our lives, all we have done is served the Lord with the mundane tasks He has put before us? How awful?

“Everyone wants a revolution, no one wants to do the dishes.”  Michael Horton

At the end of the movie Emmet says to Lord Business:

lego-movie“You don’t have to be the bad guy. You are the most talented, most interesting, most extraordinary person in the universe….”  (Pause – and then Emmet adds) “And so is EVERYBODY.”

Because everybody is awesome – that is the only rule in the Rat Race.

The Rat Race gets better.

How crazy are we?  We mock the Rat Race. We talk down about it. We know the Rat Race is not good. We counsel others to get out of the Rat Race and yet…. we lust for it, pursue it, and we are incredibly jealous of those who are out in front of the race!

Is that not insane? We mock the Rat Race and then strive with all that is in us, to get in the lead of that very race!

Friends, the Rat Race can be the death of relationship, family, pursuit of God, sitting on the couch with your spouse and children, having a meal without the cell phone close enough so you can reply to the text that just came in…. because it’s soooo important.  The Rat Race is the death of real relationships and communication.

God save us from the Rat Race

Further Study:  Read Ordinary By Michael Horton

Or

Listen to this sermon about average, Simeon:  iPlod

Trinity (10) The Spirit

Butterfly

 

When it comes to the Trinity, and we speak of the Father and the Son, we have categories to help us understand and grasp these persons of the Godhead.  I have a father, I am a father, and I have sons, I am a son.  But, when it comes to the Spirit we seem to be left scratching our heads a bit. The goal in these next few posts is to unpack a little bit of the Spirit in the Trinity.

So who is the Holy Spirit?

He is the 3rd person of the Trinity!  Understanding that He is a person in the Godhead affects how we view the Spirit.

  • He is NOT an impersonal force of some sort
  • He is not a thing.
  • He IS a person and thus
  • He is personal!
  • Scripture always refers to the Spirit as a “He” or “Him” and never a “it”.

He IS a person of the Trinity – He IS God.

Does Scripture teach this?  YES!

One quick example is found in Acts 5:1-4.  In this text Ananias and his wife Sapphira sell a piece of property and seek to bring the proceeds and give the money to the apostles.  The problem was that they were lying by saying their donation was more than what it was.  Peter rebukes them by saying:  “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?” He then concludes his rebuke by saying:  “you have not lied to man but to GOD.”

So, to lie to the Holy Spirit IS TO lie to God – Because the Holy Spirit IS God

Much more can be said here. For instance, Scripture speaks of the Spirit eternally which of course is an attribute of God Himself. For now, I will leave it at that. The Holy Spirit IS God!

In an effort to answer the 1st question (Who is the Spirit?) it might help us to ask a 2nd question:

What does the Holy Spirit do?

While He does many things (sanctifies, convicts, transforms) we might summarize all that He does by saying that the Spirit applies (or empowers) the work of Christ in our lives.

Christ’s work is an effective work, an empowered work, in our lives because of the work of the Spirit.

The Spirit’s work in Salvation:

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

(John 3:1-8 ESV)

Having once been dead in sin, we are now alive in Christ Jesus.  (Ephesians 2:1-6)  We are born – again.  We have been given new life.  We were once spiritually dead – we are now spiritually alive.

Once dead – now alive in Christ Jesus – because of the work of the Spirit!

It is the Spirit of God who does this life giving!  It is the Spirit who takes the spiritually dead and gives them new life.  He gives life where there was no life.

Not unlike Lazerus being raised from the dead.  Jesus spoke words of life. “Lazerus come forth” – and his once, dead body obeyed!  The heart started to pump and blood began to flow again!

WOW – that is what has taken place (spiritually) in every person who places their faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

  • Once dead
  • now alive in Christ
  • this is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Praise Him!

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Trinity (4): 1 God 3 Persons

bible study

 

We so easily make God to be who we want Him to be. We like a God who is fashioned in our own image. Thankfully, we have the Word of God to adjust our thinking.  To think rightly about who God is, is to think biblically.  We don’t need to guess, nor do we need to make it up.

God’s Word was written to reveal God to us.  It is God… on God.  He makes Himself known so that we can know Him!  Did you catch that?  The Bible reveals God – we can know Him!  As a Christian, I want to know God – but not just any ol’ image of God that I conjure up.  I want to know Him AS HE IS!  And He is:  Father / Son / Holy Spirit.

One of the ways He makes Himself known is by the Trinity.  The 3 in 1.  Think about it:  While the Trinity is beyond our ability to fully comprehend, the Trinity is also easy to comprehend.  Meaning, we can easily grasp aspects of the Trinity.  How helpful is the Trinity for us to begin to know God!

Father

Son

Holy Spirit

All the aspects of each begin to give us a picture of who God is.

Wayne Grudem defines the doctrine of the Trinity as:

 God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God.  

Wayne Grudem Systematic Theology

What would we do without the Trinity?

It is the Trinity that helps us to know who God is, what He has done, and how He is involved in sinful man.

It is much more than knowing Trinity “facts”.  Much more than knowing the Trinity factually, the Trinity is:  Father – Son – Spirit.  But we will get to that in future posts. For now, just consider how awesome it is that God reveals Himself as He does…. Trinity!

How Big is your Trinity?

Is the Trinity you hold to, the Trinity of the Bible?  If it is NOT, then you are creating a god in YOUR image.  YIKES!

Consider Today:

Do you hold to God – 3 in 1?  Or do you minimize one aspect of the Godhead?  Does your God have the Father?  Does your God have the Son?  Does your God have the Spirit?  Consider the implications if your view of God is lacking in any of the 3 persons we have in God.

thanks for reading!

Trinity (3): 4 Ways To Think About “Deep End” Theology

Swimming pool

When we talk Trinity we are entering into…. the deep end of the theological pool!  Remember as a small child playing in the shallow end?  The deep end was…. scary.  It was for the big people.  The experienced swimmers!  Not me…. I was a shallow end kid!  Guys like me were sure to drown in the deep end.

And so, I never ventured out… until the lure of all the fun that was being had in the deep end drew me!  It begins by edging your way around the pool while hanging on to the side.  And slowly but surely you found yourself…. in the deep end!  And, while the deep end should be respected by a little kid – it should also be enjoyed!  And enjoy it I did!  Almost daily!

Some think:  Why venture out into the Trinity.  They say: “you can’t fully understand it, so why bother?”   Oh friend, we need to bother.  Yes, it is the deep end and yes the deep end should be respected, but the deep end is GREAT!  It is here that we learn who God is and what He has done for us.  The deep end creates worshipers and it stirs passion and love for God. It is in the deep end that we begin to behold the glory of our God.

So, are you ready?  The following posts are all: deep end theology.  I don’t pretend to have it all figured out!  Nobody has God all figured out!  Are you kidding me?  He is, after all…… GOD!

Ok, here we go – let go of the wall…..

God is both 1 and 3!

Got it!?!

If so, your brain is far better than mine!  Trinity = 1 God 3 persons.  And that is the deep end theology we will be getting into in the posts to come.  But before we venture too far out into the deep end, let’s head back to the shallow end and ask:  “How are we to think about the deep end?”

4 Ways to Think About Deep End Theology

1.) Humility

Pride demands to have it all figured out.  Our pride actually thinks that the created should be able to fully grasp – in entirety – the Creator.  Think about this for a minute.  How silly is that?  Don’t get me wrong.  I am not suggesting that we should throw up our hands and say – If I can’t figure Him out… why bother.  Please…. Bother!  Remember the deep end is fun!  Humility is not opposed to study and diligence or deep thought.  BUT, what do we do when our study brings us to the Infinite, Almighty, Eternal, God?  HUMILITY!

2.)  Joy

Consider…. if you are a Christian, you serve a God who is without limits.  He is beyond us.  The fancy word for this is transcendence.  God transcends us.  Here are some good synonyms for the word transcendence: incomparability, matchlessness, peerlessness,magnificence, excellence, supremacy.

Yep – that is God – the 3 in 1

He is beyond us, He is infinite and that fills my heart with joy.  Because, if He were not transcendent……  then He would not be much of a God!

3.)  Worship

What does it mean that the infinite, transcendent God came and dwelled among us?  (John 1)  That’s right the infinite God took on – human flesh – skin and bones and…. limits to dwell among us!  WHY WOULD HE DO THAT?  He did that so that he might live a perfect life and die on the cross for our sins and rise from the grave ascending to the Father so that He might send us His Spirit and the Father might adopt us as His children.  Deep End Theology stirs my heart to worship Him!

4.)  Hunger

I WANT TO KNOW HIM!  It becomes a Psalms 27 moment for me, how about you?

 

One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.

(Psalm 27:4 ESV)

 

Trinity (2): One God In A Many god World

coexist

 

Bill Maher

Recently, talk show host and comedian Bill Myer had a moment of brilliance when he tweeted:

Isis- “one of thousands of Islamic militant groups” (NYTimes) “beheads another. Lets keep pretending all religions are alike”

Not only are they not all alike!  But, the implication of the above is ALSO, that not all are serving the same God.

Yawn, so what, who cares, says the society that trumpets all roads lead to heaven.  Culture cries:  “it doesn’t matter which God or which book (Bible, Koran, Book of Mormon, etc) one turns to…  they are all the same…all seeking their version of God….aren’t they?”

Well, I would love to take another post to lay out the HUGE differences between the Bible and these other books – another time….  But, in this post I will keep my focus narrow.

Is there any difference between praying to Allah, or the god of the Jehovah Witness, or ______ and the God of the Bible?

The answer is YES!  And we need to look no further than the Trinity.  The Trinity shouts loudly – “Yes, there is a difference that is bigger than epic proportions!”

Culture:  We live in a many god culture.  We have gods of money, fame, materialism, relationship, substance, and then there is Buddah, Allah, and on and on it goes.

What is idolatry?  Idolatry is devotion.  It is anything that rules and controls you – including anything that controls your emotions, decision making, and your loyalty.  What controls us, what we build our life around, or what we faithfully serve…. that is an idol and that is our god or God.  And….  wow, have you noticed…..culture has many gods!

But, that is nothing new.  This has been true ever since Genesis 3. Remember, it is in this “many gods” culture – the Bible’s opening words are… In the beginning God…

Eve’s temptation in the garden wasn’t hunger or better fruit from a better tree.  It was a temptation of:

  • Being like God
    • See Genesis 3
  • She essentially sought to dethrone the true God and become like God herself!  Imagine the created seeking to become the Creator.  No longer worshiping God, she became an idol to herself…. thus, she was seeking to worship herself.

Christianity:  What does the above have to do with the Trinity?  A lot!  Christians are monotheistic.  Meaning: We believe in ONE God.  But, so does the Muslim… right?  Well yes and no.  They believe in one god but that god is NOT the God of the Bible.  The God of the Bible is:  1 God in 3 persons.

The Father is God

The Son is God

The Spirit is God

Islam, or any other religion, does not believe in the God of the Bible.  The 3 in 1.

As Christians we need to wrestle with WHO God is. Christian, it can not be both!  One cannot say: “she is a moral, good person… she believes in HER VERSION of god, she is going to heaven…”  Either the God of the Bible IS God or He Is NOT God.  But, it can’t be both.  You can’t have the God of the Bible and the god of the Muslim and the god of the Mormon and say:  “we are all good to go – you pick your god and I will pick mine….it doesn’t really matter.”

The reality of the 3 in 1 tells us something.  It tells us IT MATTERS!  To live for, worship, and serve a god who is NOT the 3 in 1 is to NOT worship God.  Because this IS who God is!

The Point?:   My point is to stress to 2 things:

1.)  The doctrine of the Trinity is no small matter!  It is greatly important.  It has incredible implications for the Christian.  So, let’s not entertain some “wishy – washy” – or hold to a vague understanding of the Trinity.

2.)  The Trinity IS WHO GOD IS!  We should labor to know and understand God as best and as accurately as we can.  This labor will have great and lasting implications on our lives!

 

A Parting thought:

For the believer ask:  How has the Father / the Son / the Holy Spirit each brought about your salvation?

 

 

Thirsty? (Part 2)

snickers

 

Snickers Satisfies

 

Does it?  Isn’t the advertising scheme of Snickers that it does NOT satisfy.  Is the marketing scheme of Snickers aimed at ultimate chocolate bar satisfaction? Of course not!  That would be the death of Snickers.  The marketing hope of ALL marketers is to create a longing for their product so strong that you will return again and again and buy their product. They want to create a hunger for, yet ANOTHER, “satisfying” Snickers bar?

Continue reading Thirsty? (Part 2)