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

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

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?

 

God WITH Us

Away in a manger

Read:  GOD With Us And The Cultural Yawn

 

God WITH us

Who is in that manger means everything.

More than a baby and more than something cute.

More than a decoration for the front lawn.

This is Jesus the Son of the living God.

The creator of the universe has humbled himself and taken on human flesh.

Matthew 1:23
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).

What does it mean that Jesus dwelt among us?

In Genesis 1,2, 3 we read about the creation and fall of man.

In the garden there was no separation between God and man. Man was without sin.  Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

In Genesis 3 Adam and Eve sinned and God drove them out of the garden.  Man, was then separated from God’s presence.

Fast forward to John chapter 1.  The whole chapter is great to read but let’s focus on one word in this one verse when John says:

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

This word “dwelt” flies by us unnoticed.  But, we need to pause here because that one word packs quite a punch.

Here is what is interesting. John, had at his disposal other words that he could have used for “dwell”. But he uses the word skēnoō.

Who cares right?  Dwell means dwell…. doesn’t it?

Well, not exactly.

Here is what is amazing. John’s word for dwell is the word skēnoō. This word means tent and it is a verb.  Huh?  How is tent a verb?

I know…. you are thinking “big deal, so what?”  Hang with me!  

What does it mean to “tent” – verb?

It means that Christ came and took on human flesh, born of a virgin, in a manger to pitch His tent among us.

Now, that may sound really odd to us, but for John’s original hearers, they would have immediately made some connections.

An original hearer of John’s gospel would have heard the words: “pitch his tent among us” and would have immediately remembered the history of Israel.  The tabernacle was the place that God met with His people.

(Don’t forget about Adam and Eve and the garden and sin and separation from God.)

This tabernacle was covered by…… you guessed it….. a tent.  The tabernacle was also known as the “tent of meeting.”

And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.

(Exodus 29:46 ESV)

So we have a garden and sin which brings about a separation between God and man and now, here in Exodus, we have God dwelling among His people…. again.

Now, He is NOT dwelling among His people because they are without sin, or because they have earned this, or anything else. We are to read Exodus and see God dwelling among His people and realize this happened by the mercy and grace of God!

Jump forward to Exodus 33 and it is here we see that it is in the Tabernacle that God had fellowship with His people, Israel.

In verse 8 we find Moses going into the Tabernacle / Tent of meeting and everyone stopped to watch.

Drop everything….“Moses is going into the tent of meeting!” They were in awe.

Why? Verse 9 says that whenever he went into the Tent of Meeting, a pillar of cloud would descend. (Wow!)

God came down to dwell with His people!

So here is what is happening. The Tabernacle was a reminder of what Adam and Eve had in the garden, but not fully…. It was the Lord’s presence in a cloud.  AND, it was a shadow of what was to come.  Remember John 1:14

God, after He delivered His people from Egypt would come and descend and dwell among His people in the Tent of Meeting / Tabernacle.

What an amazing scene!
God is declaring: “Despite your sinfulness – I am with My people! I will dwell among my people.”

Fast forward to King David.  David wants more than a tent / tabernacle.  He wants to build a temple, a permanent house for the Lord where God’s presence would exist.

God told David no. But, God did allow David’s son Solomon to build a temple for the Lord.

The tabernacle and the temple were reminders of what Adam and Eve had in the Garden and a shadow of God’s presence that is to come.

Jesus is coming – literally God himself is coming to pitch his tent among us!  That is what John is telling us. God is (verb) pitching His tent among us!  And, this is not because we deserve His presence. He comes and descends not in a cloud but in human flesh to dwell among us – even though we are sinful and undeserving!  By His mercy and grace He comes and dwells / pitches His tent among us!

God WITH us!

John is telling us that the way God descended and dwelt among His people in the Tabernacle, that very same thing – and more – is happening in Jesus Christ. Now, God has descended not in a cloud, but in the flesh! And, He is dwelling among us!

Jesus is pitching His tent to dwell among His people! Jesus, the Eternal God, creator of the universe, Light of the world, He became flesh and tabernacled among us.

Merry Christmas!!

Trinity (12): 5 Quick Reasons Why It REALLY Does Matter

java

 

Grab your coffee and consider today the glory of the Trinity!

We have had 12 posts on the Trinity.  We have gone out into the “deep end”.  You might be thinking: “ok, ok, the Trinity matters, but does it REALLY matter that much?”

Good question!

Here is an attempt to give a short Answer:

5 quick reasons why the Trinity REALLY does matter:

 

1.)  Atonement Implications

“If Jesus is merely a created being, and not fully God, then it is hard to see how he, a creature, could bear the full wrath of God against all our sins.  Could any creature, no matter how great, really save us?”  

Wayne Grudem

Take the Son out of the Trinity….. and you and I are not and CAN NOT be saved!

Good news…. Jesus IS God!

2.)  Trust Implications

The Trinity gives me reason to trust in God for salvation.

  • If the Father did not send the Son…
  • If Jesus did not come in human flesh, die, rise from the grave….
  • If the Spirit did not breath new life in us….
  • Then who, exactly, are we trusting in for salvation, forgiveness, eternity, etc and is it wise to do so?!?

Good news….. you can trust in the 3 in 1 for salvation!

3.)  Worship and Prayer Implications

If the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit do not equal God…. why worship Him or pray to Him?  Every prayer ever uttered “in Jesus name” is meaningless.  The reason the words, “in Jesus name” carry meaning is because the Son is our mediator before the Father.  We don’t come before the Father in prayer, in the name of our self or in the name of a priest. We come in the name of THEE great high priest – Jesus Christ.  He is your mediator!    If Jesus is not God, then Christians are the worst of idolaters!

Good news….you can come to the Father!

4.)  Bible Implications

If the Trinity is not God, then the Bible and all of its teachings are meaningless and should NOT be followed.

Good news…. Father, Son, Holy Spirit = God!

5.)  Gospel Implications

The Gospel IS Trinity

Meaning we experience our salvation by all of the Godhead.

“We are saved by the eternal purpose of the Father, by the atoning work of the Son, through the power and wisdom of the Spirit.  We grow in our understanding of God’s grace as we see how each person of the Trinity interacts with the others to bring us out of darkness, into the light.”  

John Frame Systematic Theology

Good news… the gospel IS good news because of the Trinity!

 

For Further Study: 

The Father:  Sends His Son into the world

1 John 4:14

The Son:  Obeys the Father fully by living a perfect life and dying on the cross for to forgive us of our sins.

Phil 3:9

I Corinthians 15:3

The Spirit:  Is sent by the Father and the Son to apply salvation to us.

John 15:26

Galatians 4:6

 

5 quick reasons to once again stand in awe of who our God is.

Praise the Father,

Praise the Son,

Praise the Spirit, three in one!

 

Trinity (12): Drawing Pictures

crayons

I am reading a book with two of my sons.  Tanner and Tim (9 and 14 yrs old).  The book is titled:  Big Truths For Young Hearts by Bruce Ware.  Young hearts…. really?  It seems to me to be: Big truths for old hearts too!  As I read this to my kids I stand in awe of our God!

It is with that in mind that I want to share with you an excerpt from the book.  The chapter is titled One God in Three Persons. The author is explaining that many analogies and illustrations that seek to describe the Trinity fall short of doing so.

Enjoy!

“A question often asked is whether there are any examples, any analogies or illustrations, to the Trinity that can help us understand how God is both one and three.  Some have suggested that the Trinity is like a triangle – three sides make up one triangle, so you have three in one.  This example helps for a bit, but when you think about it more deeply, you can see it isn’t quite right. You see, the Bible teaches that there is one God, and the Father is fully God, the Son is fully God, and the Holy Spirit is fully God – not three gods but three Persons, each of whom expresses fully that one God.  But a triangle is not this way.  Yes, it has three sides, but each of the sides is not fully a triangle, right?  So, while a triangle shows one thing made up of three parts, it doesn’t show one thing that is fully expressed by each of the three parts.

Some have thought that perhaps the Trinity is like three men, say Peter, James, and John.  They all are human, but they are three persons.  Will this work to show us the Trinity? Here the problem is the opposite of the problem with the triangle.  Each person is fully human, but in this example you not only have three persons, you have also three human beings.  After all, Peter is a man, but a different man from James, who is a different man from John.  So if we followed this illustration we would end up with three gods as well as three persons who are god.

Yet others have thought H2O (water) shows us the Trintiy since H2O can be three things:  solid (ice), liquid (running water), and vapor (steam).  But the same H2O molecules cannot be all three at exactly the same time. H2O is a good illustration of modalism (a false teaching of the Trinity that we’ll learn more about later) where God is first the Father, then the Son, and then the Spirit, one at a time. But the Bible teaches that God is Father, Son, and Spirit all at the same time. Each person lives eternally as God.

The closest thing I have imagined to the Trinity is drawing a circle using three colored markers (perhaps red, blue, and green). If you draw the same circle three times, with each color overlapping exactly the previous one, you have one circle. But the red line is not the blue line, and the blue line is not the green line. Yet all three lines enclose only one circle. While this illustration may work in a very small part, the truth is that there simply is nothing in our experience that shows us exactly what the Trinity teaches.  Nothing quite works to show what it means for God to be one in his nature as the one true God, yet three in Persons as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each fully God. But we should not be surprised at this. After all, the Bible has told us many times that there is no one like the Lord (Exodus 8:10; 9:14; Deuteronomy 33:26; 34:11; Jeremiah 10:6-7). He is the one and only true and living God, and He also is unlike anything or anyone else.

There truly is no one like the Lord. He is one God, but that one God lives and is expressed through the three Persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Each Person is fully God, yet each Person is also distinct from the other Persons.  We have here a biblical teaching that in the end we must believe even though we cannot understand it fully. And what we can learn from this is that God is greater than we can imagine and more beautiful than anything we’ve seen. The doctrine of the Trinity calls us to wonder and marvel at just how great our God is.

Three in One and One in Three – This is God, and there is no other!”

Bruce Ware

 

Greater than we can imagine…….  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)

 

Thirsty?

desert

They say a good writer grabs your attention with the first sentence.  That is how Psalms 63 was written.  Right out of the gate David lands on the dry and weary soul.  It’s a thirsty Psalm.  A hungry and parched Psalm.  Written from the wilderness, the psalmist knows something about living thirsty.  Check it out!

Continue reading Thirsty?

Connecting The Gospel To Singing

Connecting The Gospel and Singing

 

 

Bob Kauflin
Bob Kauflin

It’s Friday morning and that means it is time for me to introduce you to new and old friends that are making gospel connections.  In todays post Bob Kauflin helps us to connect the gospel to worship and singing.

This post was previously posted by Bob on his blog: Worship Matters.  The post was titled:  Can singing about the gospel become rote?
Thank you Bob for allowing me to use of this post!